University of Sheffield Photo Soc

B&W Fortnight photographer profile: Weegee

Weegee was a New York press and street photographer from the 1930s and 40s, known for his unflinchingly direct and realistic images of crime and disaster, ranging from fires to murders. His real name was Arthur Fellig, but his colleagues nicknamed him Weegee (a phonetic spelling of “Ouija”) for his apparently uncanny ability to arrive at a crime scene even before the police.


‘Simply Add Boiling Water’

Most of Weegee’s shots were taken at night, with the aid of flashbulbs, resulting in his characteristically stark, high contrast style. A self-taught photographer, his photos were taken with an exposure of f/16 at 1/200, and developed in a homemade darkroom in the back of his car.


‘Joy of Living’

Aside from crime and catastrophe, Weegee also photographed New York society at all its myriad levels: grandes dames dripping with jewels at the opera; young working class couples at the cinema; drunks and vagrants on the city streets.


‘Lovers with 3-D glasses at the Palace Theatre’

William McCleery wrote of Weegee in the photographer’s first book, Naked City, that: “He will take his camera and ride off in search of new evidence that his city, even in her most drunken and disorderly and pathetic moments, is beautiful.”


'Caretakers, Madison Square Garden'


Category: General

One Response

  1. Miki says:

    I didn’t want to clutter up the post by saying this, but I’d really recommend getting Weegee’s book ‘Naked City’. His narration fits the photos perfectly, so that it feels like he’s taking you on a personal tour of the city, showing you all the secret sights that can be found in the lonely hours of the night and early morning. It’s a beautiful glimpse into life on the streets of New York during the 40s, and a lot of it is probably just as relevant today.

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