City of Shadows: Sydney Police Photographs, 1912–1948

My crime scene Graflex camera.The other day I posted some work by Alexey Titarenko from a project called City of Shadows. Well, there’s also a completely unrelated book of the same name that has some amazing police photography from early-20th century Sydney, Australia.

I’ve had an interest in old police/crime scene photography for a long time. It started with Weegee and built from there. My brother-in-law Casey gave me some books of crime scene photography for Christmas one year, and my father-in-law recently (well, a few months back) gave me a 4×5 Graflex that was used by the police department in Springfield, IL. Which I guess has nothing to do with me being interested in crime scene photography, but having a camera that was used to take pictures of crime scenes and, possibly, corpses, is a bit creepy.

As usual, I kind of got off track by talking about myself there, so let’s move on to the book itself.

City of Shadows, as stated earlier and up there in the title of this post, is a collection of police photography. Apparently there was a flood in some building in Sydney that was inadvertently warehousing thousands of glass plate negatives, and they were rediscovered, sorted through and eventually published as a book.

There are your standard crime scene photos in there, but the really interesting things are the mug shots. These are completely unlike any mug shots probably in existence anywhere else in the world. Ever. They’re absolutely gorgeous: well composed, tonally perfect, often covered in printed lettering and flowing script. The subjects range from children to the elderly; all of whom are incredibly interesting to look at — some are angry, some are scared, some are laughing, some are posing. Maybe it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I find them fascinating.

There’s a Wikepedia entry on the author who curated the photos, Peter Doyle. Astute readers may notice that I’ve cleverly hidden a link to it in the previous sentence. You can also check out the book on Amazon here. And you can whet your appetite for awesomeness by looking below and checking out a few of the many mind-blowing shots contained therein.

Enjoy.

City of Shadows: Sydney Police Photographs, 1912-1948City of Shadows: Sydney Police Photographs, 1912-1948City of Shadows: Sydney Police Photographs, 1912-1948City of Shadows: Sydney Police Photographs, 1912-1948City of Shadows: Sydney Police Photographs, 1912-1948City of Shadows: Sydney Police Photographs, 1912-1948

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