Weegee The Famous

For the photography and moving image week our group project for photography was about domestic violence.  Therefore I researched Weegee as he was a photographer who took pictures of crime scenes.  In his photos he would include the whole scene; the criminal, victim, witnesses, buildings, police; anything that would show the same scene from a different point of view. As a news photographer, he would then sell these photos to newspapers. He is important in his field as, both at the time and now, there is no one like him.  He would arrive at crime scenes before anyone else and would invade people’s privacy in order to gain a good photo, whether that was of the dead victim or the grieving victim’s family.

Balcony Seats at a Murder

One of Weegee’s most famous photos is ‘Balcony Seats at a Murder’ (above).  In this photo he has taken shots of a dead person lying in the doorway of a shop.  But, he has not just taken this photo showing the victim, he has included every detail.  Surrounding the man are police and other witnesses, but the most intriguing part of the photo is the witnesses who have come out onto their fire escapes and are looking out of their windows, crowding around to see what is going on.  Therefore Weegee is viewing the scene as the drama occurring for everyone else as a result of this incident.  He used flash powder in the photo which I think is interesting as he made the faces of the crowd brighter and more apparent than the body itself.  I like this as it emphasises the interest a crime brings to those not involved.  Weegee has said ‘I try to humanize the news story’ I think that he does this well as he has focused on the living rather than the dead.  This is further emphasised by the line down the buildings (separating each shop) as it creates a division between the side where the incident happened and the darker building where the spectators are on a higher level.  I think that the name given to this photo is clever as he is playing slightly with humour and metaphors in a depressing situation.  This is because he is making this scenario seem like a theatre performance which everyone is watching rather than a murder.

From looking at Weegee’s work, I feel that to make my work more interesting I could focus on one event but from many different views.  He said himself about this photo that it was ‘One of the best pictures I ever made’ I agree to a degree with reference to including the whole scene.  However I find that the dead person disappears within the photo and takes away the seriousness of the incident as, as a viewer you cannot see as clearly what they are seeing.

News articles I used include;

http://www.nytimes.com/1997/11/21/arts/photography-review-a-news-hawk-with-a-bloodhound-s-nose-and-a-tabloid-eye.html

http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/news-features/magazine/weegee-as-witness/

http://bombmagazine.org/article/941/weegee

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