In 1943, Arthur Fellig, aka Weegee, photographed the audience in the dark at New York movie theaters. Equipped with an infrared flash and a special film, his snapshots are just beautiful…
As a photographer, Weegee is perhaps the truest, most perceptive, most cynical, and yet most blatantly sentimental chronicler of urban life in twentieth-century New York. While forging his trade as a tabloid press photographer in the 1930s—a role that was then regarded as the catfish of the journalistic profession—Weegee established a perspective on his city and its inhabitants that in many ways remains with us today. His now-classic pictures show an insider’s view of brutal crimes and accidents, engaging street kids and ethnic vendors, even tenement dwellers casually gazing out at the latest murder while reading the funny papers. Weegee’s intimate voyeurism and shrugging acceptance of life’s hard knocks constitute a unique approach to documentary photography, one divorced from the reformist zeal of the New Deal thirties yet tempered by the economic trauma of the Depression and an immigrant’s experience of hardscrabble survival.
The man behind the lens: