- Weegee, Their first murder, October 8, 1941. © Weegee/International Center of Photography.
- Weegee, [Police and bystanders with body of Stanley Sandler, a passenger in an automobile that crashed into a Third Avenue El pillar and caught fire, New York], April 16, 1942. © Weegee/International Center of Photography.
- Weegee, Murder on the roof, August 13, 1941. © Weegee/International Center of Photography.
- Weegee, Balcony seats at a murder, November 16, 1939. © Weegee/International Center of Photography.
- Weegee, [Weegee inspecting trunk that contained body of William Hessler, who had been stabbed to death, Brooklyn], August 5, 1936. © Weegee/International Center of Photography.
Weegee's photographs were made to be printed in newspapers. His goal was not to produce fine art prints or to exhibit his photographs framed on the wall of a gallery. As a freelance photographer at a time when New York City had at least twelve daily newspapers and when wire services were just beginning to handle photos, Weegee was challenged daily to capture unique images of newsworthy events and distribute them quickly. He worked almost exclusively at night, setting out from his small apartment across from police headquarters when news of a fresh crime came chattering across his policeband radio receiver. Often arriving before the police themselves, he carefully cased each scene to create the best angle. Exploiting the garish lighting effects of the recently invented flashbulb, Weegee boldly illuminated the seamy underside of the nightitme city and captured instantaneously the startled expressions of his often anguished subjects. Murders, he claimed, were the easiest to photograph because the subjects never moved or became temperamental.
Weegee's approach to photographing crime scenes was unique. Unlike police photographers or other photojournalists, he was most concerned with the human drama. He often used subtle juxtapositions or strange incongruities to illuminate the absurdity of certain deaths, such as the gangster trussed up in a too-small trunk or a movie marquee in the background that reads "Joy of Living." At the same time, Weegee was as interested in the raucous or stunned responses of spectators as in the motionless victims themselves. In the Museum's exhibition, this gallery features an in-depth view of several of Weegee's most famous individual photographs, showing how they relate to other pictures he took and to pictures other photographers captured, and how editors utilized those images in the tabloid newspapers of the 1930s and 1940s.