By monitoring police and fire-department radio calls Fellig was able to obtain a large number of dramatic photographs. The ability to be the first photographer on the scene of a major incident, resulted in him being given the nickname, Weegee (a reference to the fortune-teller's Ouija board).


Arthur Fellig "Weegee" his Speed Graphic and cigar.
1944

He captured tenement infernos, car crashes, and gangland executions. He found washed-up lounge singers and teenage murder suspects in paddy wagons and photographed them at their most vulnerable -- or, as he put it, their most human. He caught couples kissing on their beach blankets on Coney Island and the late-night voyeurs on lifeguard stands watching them. And everywhere he went, he snatched images of people sleeping: drunks on park benches, whole families on Lower East Side fire escapes, men and women snoring in movie theaters. He was the supreme chronicler of the city at night.
Born Usher Fellig in what is now the Ukraine, Weegee moved to New York's Lower East Side in 1910 at the age of eleven. By fifteen he had left home, supporting himself through odd jobs and sleeping wherever he could find a place: the benches of Penn Station and Bryant Park (to which he would later return, camera in hand), or the Bowery's flophouses. He became a street photographer's assistant and later a roaming photographer himself, snapping pictures of children to sell to their poor but proud parents. During the 1920s he worked and often lived in the darkrooms of the
New York Times and Acme Newspictures, and soon he was filling in for photographers when they couldn't make their late shift. By the thirties, his intimate chronicles of disasters both natural and man-made were being featured in PM, Life, Popular Photography, and all of the New York dailies. He went on to become one of the most prolific and famous news photographers of the century. His first book, Naked City, which helped established his fame and is still in print today, was published in 1945.

   

Jane Mansfield. Hollywood 1951
Photographed by Arthur Fellig "Weegee"

Almost immediately after shooting his pictures, Weegee  developed the film and wrote on the typewriter his article sitting behind the trunk of his Chevrolet.

Fellig's photographs appeared in nearly all of New York's newspapers including New York Tribune, New York Post, World-Telegram, Daily News, Journal-American, PM and the New York Sun. In 1941 the Photo League put on an exhibition of his work, Weegee: Murder is My Business.

After the publication of his highly successful book, Naked City (1945). Fellig abandoned crime photos and concentrated on advertising assignments for Life, Vogue, Holiday, Look and Fortune. Other books by Fellig included Weegee People (1946), Naked Hollywood (1953) and Weegee by Weegee (1961). Arthur Fellig died on 26th December, 1968.
 


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