Saturday, November 29, 2008


The Gordon Archive houses a huge collection of original WeeGee shots.

The tonal quality of these negatives are, for the most part, quite stunning. All the more so when you realize that many were developed in the trunk of his car! Sadly, the lack of washing facilities and shortcuts taken to make deadlines have left many of them stained and discolored with mineral and chemical deposits. Many have also suffered from poor storage and mechanical damage. Where possible I have tried to include the entire negative including the damaged areas. A number of the negatives have grease pencil marks indicating the preferred cropping. On these I have also kept the entire image ignoring cropping marks in the hope that this will aid research. Some negatives, like the Chicago series (#64-#69) were cropped with black tape that can no longer be safely removed.

"He maintained a complete darkroom in the trunk of his car, to expedite getting his free-lance product to the newspapers."

This is not exactly true.
It's funny that this myth is perpetuated, since one of the most famous pictures of Weegee is him sitting at the trunk of his car and typing while holding a flashlight... Clearly visible are boxes of cigars and flash bulbs, and film holders, two Speed Graphic cameras, and a pair of boots, but no film processing equipment, no enlargers or trays of developer, stop bath, fix, etc...

On the less-accurate-than-Wikipedia Temple University photographer's web page about Weegee there is the above image, with the caption: "Weegee used the trunk of his car as a darkroom.")

On page 52 of Weegee by Weegee, Weegee writes:
"My car became my home. It was a two-seater, with a special extra-large luggage compartment. I kept everything there, an extra camera, cases of flash bulbs, extra loaded holders, a typewriter, fireman's boots, boxes of cigars, salami, infra-red film for shooting in the dark, uniforms, disguises, a change of underwear, and extra shoes and socks."

Salem Massachusetts burns, 1914

PARIS FRANCE, New 45 metre ladder

Fifth alarm, Sacred Heart School Brooklyn
Mayor La Guardia & Chief Mc Elligott

1179 51st Street, Brooklyn

Visit the 200+ shots at the website.

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