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Weegee (American, 1899-1968)


Also known as:  Fellig, Arthur H.; Fellig, Arthur

Birth Place: Zloczew (l?dzkie voivodship, Poland)

Born Ascher Fellig, Weegee earned his pseudonym by his prescient arrivals to scenes of crimes only minutes after they were reported to the authorities. Weegee is a phonetic rendering of Ouija. It is debated whether he gave himself this nickname or whether it was bestowed on him by a reporter or police officer.

Most of Weegee's work depicted unflinchingly harsh scenes of Manhattan crime and poverty during the 1930s and 1940s in stark black and white photos. Although he first started out working as a darkroom technician, he left to become a freelance photographer, haunting the Manhattan Police Headquarters for incidents to photograph. His reasoning was that newspapers would only buy photos with an interesting story and was validated by appearing in the New York Post, the Herald Tribune and more. He operated primarily at night.

Weegee relied on basic equipment for his photography efforts. He lacked formal training and learned to develop his photographs in a darkroom he set up in the rear of his car, which imbued his photos with a "hot off the press" feeling that emphasized the tabloid nature of his work. In 1945, he published a photography book that became the movie The Naked City. During the 1950s, he experimented with film and worked with Stanley Kubrick on Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. His accent inspired Dr. Strangelove's accent.

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