Flash photography brought a whole new meaning to the saying, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’.
Looking at works by Arthur Fellig, ‘Weegee’ and Kohei Yoshiyuki, the exposure of these photographs give us a greater depth of the story that surrounds the subject in the image. The flashlight over exposes the whole scene, essentially turning the light on the surrounding context, making what is normally invisible, visible.
Weegee brought out a book called ‘Naked City, 1945. This is a documentary book of Weegee’s images up to the mid 1940’s.
Instead of the usual ten foot shot other tabloid photographers would take, Weegee would sometimes take a shot a hundred feet away so as to get the whole scene, dramatising and at the same time humanising the story. An Example of this is the Picture he shot in Little Italy, 10 Prince Street, Balcony Seats at a murder.
Weegee’s Images gives us a view of New York's urban life throughout the depression years. He gave the viewer the shock value of raw cuts taken from crime scenes, murders, car crashes, drunks falling asleep on pavements.
Alongside the tabloid snaps Weegee also picked up on the after hours social life NewYork had to offer in the1930’s and 1940’s. It seems he could never put the camera down, even in movie theatres. He seems to be checking out how far he can push going undercover, makinghimself become invisible. This maybe down to the use of using infrared flash, capturing these young couples kissing in Movie theatres without them or anyone else for that matter noticing, or else it was too late for anyone to do anything as the shot had already been taken.
Weegee’s images are relative to the works by Kohei Yoshiyuki, another nocturnal photographer.
Yoshiyuki, a japanese commercial photographer, is known for his ‘The Park’ series of voyeuristic images taken from Chuo Park, Shinjuku, Japan.
Like Weegee, Yoshiyuki portrays a different side to Japanese culture that no one would expect to see.
These events were first witnessed by Yoshiyuki when he was a young photograher walking home with a colleague through Chuo Park in the early 1970’s.
He tried to take pictures of what was happening but it was too dark, so he went back with two colleagues with a kodak infrared flashbulb unit.
He had to become friends with all the voyeurs in the different parks for approximately six month before he could take pictures of the their creepy fetish behaviour towards couples in the park at night.
His images give us the feeling that we are following behind him whilst he is following the voyeurs. This feeling is portrayed in the exhibition that was held at the Yossi Milo Gallery in Chelsea. The exhibition comprised of life size images with gallery lights off. The images were shown to the viewer by the viewer holding a flashlight, making them feel like a Yoshiyuki whilst taking the pictures in the dark.
‘I wanted people to look at the bodies an inch at a time’
Yoshiyuki and Weegee tested the parameters of privacy as much as the voyeurs do. This is due to their hidden camera. taking illicit and intimate pictures without their subject knowing. The act of exhibiting and publishing of these public/ private moments is what pose difficult questions to what is private and whether we should go along with whats being revealed or do we reject it. It is how the paparazzi work today, recording public and private hidden moments of a subject without them knowing, giving their audience a chance to see the unseen.