the faces of the accused

The last several days for me have been rich with marveling at the work of unknown (at least in their day) photographers. First, the post on Poppytalk about Vivian Maier, the career nanny and secret photographer of breath-taking (often undeveloped in her lifetime) images. An now, the anonymous photographer(s) of the police department in New South Wales, Australia. These were the mugshots of the accused in the 1920s.

The french blog La boite verte shows an amazing collection of these images, taken from Peter Doyle's books Crooks Like Us and City of Shadows. What a difference these photos communicate compared to the common understanding of a mugshot. The photographer's sensitive eye seems to respect the complexity of the person and the poignancy of the moment when their lives will most certainly irrevocably change, either after committing a crime or being falsely accused.

Luc Sante offers his thoughtful perspective on A Very Short List, where I first read about the photos.