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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Weegee

Born: Usher Fellig 
Other: Arthur "Weegee" Fellig 
Other: Arthur Fellig 
Pen: Weegee the famous 
Dates:  1899, 12 June - 1968, 26 December
Born:  Austria [now Poland], Zloczew - (Different sources give different locations such as Lemburg in the Ukraine)
Died:  US, NY, New York City
Active:  US
American freelance photographer with an incredible ability to take photographs at crime scenes in New York.

Preparing biographies

Biography provided by Focal Press 
Born in Lvov, Ukraine, Weegee was a photojournalist who rose to celebrity status for his on-the-spot photos of daily news events in New York City. Taking the name Weegee (Ouija) from his ability to be at the scene within moments, he actually had a police radio in his car and hook-in to police alarms near his bed. He used on-camera flash with a 4 x 5 Speed Graphic to photograph crime scenes, urban disasters, celebrities, and everyday street life, famous for his strategic, confrontational approach and sardonic sensibilities. His first exhibit, Weegee: Murder is My Business, opened at the Photo League in 1941, and his first book, Naked City, was published in 1945 to be followed by a series of books, museum exhibitions, and freelance projects. 
(Author: Garie Waltzer - Photographer and consultant) 
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 

Further research

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Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

Exhibitions on this website

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Visual indexes

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Supplemental information


Polish-born American, 1899-1968

Weegee, who was born in Poland in 1899, immigrated to New York City in 1909, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. At the age of fourteen, he left school to support his family by working at a number of odd jobs. As a young boy he became interested in photography and worked as a street photographer for several years, later joining Acme Newspaper as a darkroom technician. This job developing film is what led Weegee to becoming a news photographer. In the 1930's he obtained his first Speed Graphic, a 4 x 5 black and white, hand-held camera with a number five flashbulb, which he used for the rest of his career. As a freelance photographer, he set up a post at the Manhattan Police Headquarters and used an officially authorized police radio in his car to arrive at news-making scenes or catastrophes before his competitors. Weegee contributed to several newspapers and magazines, including P.M., Vogue, Holiday, LIFE, Look, and Fortune. He also created three short films and was the subject of two; Lou Stoumen's "The Naked Eye", named after one of Weegee's books, made the photographer a celebrity.
Weegee was the epitome of a brash, cigar-chewing, wisecracking news photographer. With his stark, graphic style, he specialized in documenting, the dark side of New York City life: the violence, crime, murder, robbery, and fires that occurred in the city each day. However, Weegee also photographed more benign scenes of children playing, celebrities and their fans, and everyday life of New York City inhabitants. His spontaneous, witty, and meaningful work went beyond that of a news photographer. He once said that he wished to show that ten and a half million people lived together in a state of total loneliness. For more information on Weegee see Weegee's World with text by Miles Barth.
[Contributed by Lee Gallery] 

Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer. Go to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
 Go to website

Internet resources

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Weegee ... 
Weegee ... 
Getty images: Masters gallery 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.214 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] 
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.550-551 
• Fernandez, Horacio (ed.) 2000 Fotografía Pública: Photography in Print 1919-1939 (Aldeasa) p.256 [This Spanish exhibition catalogue is one of the best sources for illustrations of photomontage and book design for the period between the two World Wars.] 
• International Center of Photography 1999 Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection (New York: A Bulfinch Press Book) p.231 [Includes a well written short biography on Weegee with example plate(s) earlier in book.] 
• Weaver, Mike (ed.) 1989 The Art of Photography 1839-1989 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press) p.470 [This exhibition catalogue is for the travelling exhibition that went to Houston, Canberra and London in 1989.] 
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.266-267 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Gruber, Renate and L. Fritz Gruber 1982 The Imaginary Photo Museum (New York: Harmony Books) p.264 
• Naef, Weston 1995 The J. Paul Getty Museum - Handbook of the Photographic Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) p.209 
• Naef, Weston 2004 Photographers of Genius at the Getty (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) [For this photographer there is a description and three sample photographs from the Getty collection. p.152-155] 
• Newhall, Beaumont 1982 The History of Photography - Fifth Edition (London: Secker & Warburg) [One or more photographs by Weegee are included in this classic history.] 
• Sobieszek, Robert A. and Deborah Irmas 1994 the camera i: Photographic Self-Portraits (Los Angeles: LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art) p.236, Plate 76 [When the Audrey and Sydney Irmas collection was donated to LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1992 the museum gained a remarkable collection of self portraits of notable photographers. If you need a portrait of Weegee this is a useful starting point.] 
• Szarkowski, John 1973 Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (New York: The Museum of Modern Art) p.142 [Analyzes a single photograph by Weegee.] 


Photographic collections are a useful means of examining large numbers of photographs by a single photographer on-line. 

In the 1990 survey of 535 American photographic collections Weegee was represented in 51 of the collections. Source: Andrew H. Eskind & Greg Drake (eds.) 1990 Index to American Photographic Collections [Second Enlarged Edition] (Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall & Co.) 
Library of Congress, Washington, USA 
Approximate number of records: 2 
Note: A single record may contain more than one photograph.
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