The Weegee Day Thread (March 12, 2020)

“I have no inhibitions and neither does my camera …” – Weegee

Arthur Fellig was one of the great photojournalists of the 20th Century. His photographs, which could be voyeuristic and humane at turns, came to define New York City in the 1940s through his book Naked City.

He was born Usher Fellig in Ukraine before his family immigrated to the United States and he anglicised his name. Self-taught, he first worked as a photographer at fourteen, leading to different jobs before he became a freelancer press photographer in 1935. He installed a police radio in his car, allowing him to arrive quickly at the scenes of incidents and capture the most sensational images, which he would then sell to the city newspapers.

His apparent ability to appear magically at crime scenes sometimes even before the police themselves was likened to having a Ouija board. Fellig took it as a compliment and, spelling it phonetically, took Weegee as his professional name. His images have a shocking immediacy and speed, which are even more impressive when you realise they were taken by a heavy, cumbersome Speed Graphic camera, preset at f/16 and 1/200 of a second, with single-use flashbulbs and a set focus distance of ten feet.

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Have a wonderful day, everyone!