When I see works by Weegee (Zloczow, Ukraine, 1899 – New York, 1969), a suspicion I've had about photography is confirmed: sometimes attitude, intuition and spirit are more important than technique.
Weegee, born Usher Fellig, lived in the streets of Manhantan in his car stuffed full of photograph gear and accessories, a typewriter, a change of clothes, food and a radio that picked up police frequencies. He got the name Weegee (a phonetic spelling of 'Ouija') because he was always arriving at the scene of an incident moments after it had happened.
Using a 4x5 Speed Graphic camera with a preset focus, he always shot with a flash from about three metres away from his subject. Thieves, prostitutes, transvestites, drunks, homeless, suicides, mafiosos in a police van, people doing all kinds of things in the darkness of cinemas, victims of fires in the street in their pyjamas, revellers filling the beach at Coney Island... all of them anonymous enough to be any one of us.
The bulk of the snapshots show in Foto Colectania – which come from the Swiss collection M. + M. Auer – were taken in the 1930s and 1940s. Weegee was a self-taught artist: he worked on his own and sold the stories he recorded on film to the first newspaper that wanted to buy them. He also made a living with a series of very successful photo books, such as 'Naked City' (1945). When crime rates lowered, he moved to Hollywood. He even collaborated with Stanley Kubric on 'Dr Strangelove'. What a guy, that Weege.