It's time to step away from curious encounters in the country and focus on the seedier side of midnight in the city. Herein presented are the gritty photographs of lawbreakers, victims and crime scenes as seen by the early 20th century photographer Arthur Fellig, more popularly known as Weegee.
His nickname has nothing to do with the Internet meme. Instead, he earned it through his uncanny ability to show up at the right crime scenes and at the right time in the 1930s and 40s. There is some dispute whether the name Weegee (a phonetic interpretation of the popular board game) was given to him by the newspapers or authorities, or whether he picked it himself, but there is no doubt that the name fits him quite well.
The few pictures presented here were most probably taken just after a perpetrator's arrest, but in many occasions, Weegee would arrive well before any authorities were at the scene, take pictures, develop the photographs (in the trunk of his car), and be well on his way to sell his photos to the nearest tabloids and newspapers.
The camera that he used was equipped with flashbulbs which produced a very direct and harsh light, not unlike today's compact cameras. This gave his night-time pictures an objective and rather unflattering black and white contrast. Save for a few differences in the fashion of that time, some of these photographs could be mistaken for images taken quite recently with a compact cam.
Weegee is most often credited for helping develop the tabloid newspaper during its infancy, but while today's tabloid journalism focuses more on the sensational aspects of celebrities and the like, Weegee was not afraid of showing both the glamour of the upper class and the sleazier side of the streets.
Here is a New York Times feature with a few slides of Weegee's work along with some commentary. A Google search of his images will reveal many crime scenes photos such as the ones above, but you'll also find many images of his night-time street photography, nudes, high society snapshots, and ironically, that annoying meme. Do a search on Arthur Fellig instead. For hardcopies, go for Naked City, In Focus: Weegee, Unknown Weegee, and Weegee (Phaidon 55).