Weegee the Famous

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Usher Fellig, better known as the ‘Weegee the Famous' was born on June 12th, 1899 in Austria. In the year 1906 Usher Fellig immigrated to the United States and in 1917 had his first taste of being a photographer. He started at an entry level position for the Ducket and Adler photography studios in lower Manhattan and in 1921 eventually managed to land a part time job as a helper in the darkrooms of the New York Times. It wasn't until 1924 that Fellig obtained the job of darkroom technician and printer from Acme Newspictures. It was during his time at Acme that Usher Fellig coined the nickname Weegee. The strangely eccentric photographer literally lived in the Acme darkroom covering late night news stories. Then in 1935 Weegee vacated the Acme darkroom to become a freelance photographer. Weegee's photographs are both the essences of life and death that speaks with both a senses of humanity and irony. His strange brand of street photography chronicles many deadly crimes on the streets of the New York City. Weegee was often the first on the scene of a murderous crime, there to photograph the raw imagery of street violence, such is the case with such photographs such as "Gunman Killed by Off-Duty Cop at 34 Broome Street (1942)" and "Dead on Arrival (1941)." Not only was Weegee able to capture the brutal scenes of horrible crimes, but he was also able to take that same terrible violence and make it amusing. By the use subject matter already on the scene Weegee was able to turn a sickly violence image into something ironic and strangely laughable. Such is illustrated in the photo "Joy of Living (1942)" in which the victim of a fatal car accident is sprawled out lifelessly below a theatre marquis advertising the 1938 film ‘Joy of Living.' This sense of irony is once again illustrated in "Just Add Boiling Water (1937)," where a building, advertising frankfurters with the slogan ‘Just Add Boiling Water,' is engulfed in a blaze of flames adding its own ironic caption to...
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