photo essay 2 - Tricia Mittman Weegee, born Usher Fellig,...

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Tricia Mittman Weegee, born Usher Fellig, was a freelance journalist who made his living selling his pictures of urban catastrophes like murders, fires, and car accidents to tabloid newspapers. He immigrated to New York City from Austria at age eleven and left his Jewish home at fifteen to work as a darkroom assistant for Acme Newspapers and the New York Times. He was also a street photographer and wandered the streets of New York as an entertainer charging pedestrians for a photo opportunity. Through his innate love for dramatic intensity and his affinity with the afflicted people (rooted in his own impoverished origins), Weegee began documenting horrific catastrophes of the city. His familiarity with the streets, whorehouses, and mass culture of New York City was mediated by his immigrant heritage and his Jewish identity. It was for his uncanny ability to make such early appearances at crime scenes that he created the name Weegee for himself, appropriated from the Oujla board. At the time, Jewish cultural forms like newspapers and cartoons brought visual imagery into Jewish neighborhoods similar to those in which Weegee grew up. Yiddish language newspapers regularly featured comics and political cartoons in which Jewish archetypes made transitions in communication familiar to newly arrived immigrants. Weegee was considered consistently deracinated and disconnected from his immigrant Jewish roots; ironic, considering that it is from there that so much of his sensibility, and thus success, originates. He uniquely identified himself as the archetypical New Yorker. Alongside Orson Welles and Walter Winchell, Weegee flourished as an innovating dramatist of his time. He has also been compared to Jacob Riis because of his infrared,
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This note was uploaded on 02/13/2011 for the course COMM 211 taught by Professor Traubaut during the Spring '08 term at University of Michigan.

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photo essay 2 - Tricia Mittman Weegee, born Usher Fellig,...

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