Sunday, 15 December 2013

Photostream Feature: Least Wanted

The police mugshot photograph was developed as early as the mid-nineteenth century, and it has since developed as an iconic photographic type in its own right. Formulaic and recognised the world over, it was developed at a when the Victorian fascination of labelling and categorising of people was at its height. Remarkably, the mugshot photograph has changed little in 150 years.

Today we bring you 'Least Wanted' - a photosteam that showcases historical mugshots. The collector of these images, Mark Michaelson has also released a book of these photographs, and he has amassed a collection of around 10,000 photographs taken from the 1870s to the 1970s. In theory, these photographs are formulaic and regular as we would expect from a mugshot. But in reality, every single one is unique - each face telling a different story.

When looking at these photographs, you can't help but imagine what sort of situations the arrested were involved in; faces look back at the camera smiling, blinking, scowling. It's also an amazing timeline of different fashions and hairstyles - the woman in the above photograph may have just been arrested, but her backcombed beehive remains perfectly intact and her expression speaks a thousand words. Some photographs have written details on them about the sitter, others reveal nothing. The photograph below is particularly fascinating -  claiming the arrested "likes to live big... will check into better type hotels and run up large bills" - which might give us a clue as to why he was charged.

Take a look at this fascinating collection of photographs here.


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