Arthur Fellig, also known as Weegee, was a renowned
photographer. He was a legendary photographer who achieved fame
and success by photographing gritty crime scenes and the everyday
activities of working-class residents of New York City.
Weegee the Photographer
His 1945 book, The Naked City, featured
plenty of these photographs and became popular for its' non-degrading
portrayal of the subjects.
Fellig got the name Weegee from law enforcement
because he was always the first photographer to arrive at the
crime scene. In addition, Weegee published other photo books
such as Naked Hollywood in 1953.
This book featured photos of film stars (though
fully clothed) and scenes from the vibrant Hollywood nightlife.
Weegee also produced a few short films and did advertising for
magazines Life and Vogue. A majority of Weegee's photos were
in black and white and they resembled classic movies.
Arthur "Weegee" Fellig was born in Austria
in 1899 and in 1906 the family relocated to the United States.
In the 1930s, Weegee worked with New York newspapers such as
New York Tribune and the New York Post, and he started his career
with photos of crime scenes and gritty images of street people
in New York. This was a break from the traditional subjects
that would be covered of life in New York, and Fellig laid the
groundwork for what is now called photojournalism. Weegee's
photos told real stories about street life without text.
Photojournalism is expected to be objective in
nature and will try to tell the truth about certain news stories
without bias or degradation. This was true for much of Weegee's
photos of New York's working-class residents. Much of Weegee's
work served as a storybook of the past few decades in American
history which included the Golden Age of Hollywood, civil rights
issues and a time when petty crimes were the main crimes with
which people had to be concerned. Wegee also studied his subjects
as he took the pictures, which was another reason why he was
able to successfully capture the images.
A lot of Weegee's photos have been on display
at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and he lectured at the New
School for Social Research. Weegee's gritty portrayals of ordinary
people paved the way for similar artists such as Andy Warhol
and Anne Leibovitz. He was also one of the few photographers
who was involved in the film industry although he wasn't an
He was skilled enough to work in both professions
successfully. What's also interesting about Weegee is that he
didn't have formal photography training and this fact allowed
him to be even more creative as a photographer because he wasn't
bound by traditional norms of the craft. He died in 1968.
The Rumor Mill
The rumor mill has coughed up a few interesting
fraudulent facts about Weegee the photographer. The first unfair
fact was that Weegee once used his 4 x 5 Speed Graphic camera
to flash Sean Penn's father in the face, thus provoking a fight.