After so many months of hiatus, we bring you a new Photos on Pages installment featuring one of the most fascinating and badass books that you can add in your bookshelf. If you're into crime photography and legal photography, go ahead and read on!
Featured Book: Mug Shots
Writer: Rayner Pellicer
Category: Legal photography, crime photography, history
Publication: Abrams, New York, 2009
A couple of years ago, you must have read some of our features for Portraits of Infamy and From Famous to Infamous, where we shared the mug shots of some of the most notorious criminals and famous celebrity offenders in history. We also ran a couple of series on some vintage mugshots from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s. If those features piqued your interest and you would like to see more and know more, then, you’ll definitely enjoy leafing through the pages of Mug Shots by Raynal Pellicer.
You can then think of Mug Shots as a record of all those interesting mug shots floating around in the Internet and more — or, as it says on the subtitle of the book, “an archive of the famous, infamous, and most wanted.”
The cover alone, which features the mug shots of legendary musicians (some of which you can find here and here) Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison (although there’s also another edition with Elvis Presley’s mug shot instead of Morrison’s), is certainly eye-catching, like you’re bound to find something interesting in the book. That may be judging the book by its cover, but with a cover like that, I think you just can’t help it!
But, the magic actually begins when you finally pry the book open and flip through the pages. At the first few pages, Pellicer tells how the idea for the book came about, and how the anthropometric photo (a.k.a. mug shot) of Amelie Helie (who was also known as “the Golden Helmet”) sparked his interest in legal photography. Flip through some more and you’ll learn about the origins of the mug shot and be treated to some of the earliest mug shots consigned from the early days of photography itself.
The mug shots in Pellicer’s archive are organized into several categories and eras such as anarchists in Europe and America, the Russian Revolution, wartime spies, the Mafia, and celebrity offenders. Each mug shot also has some basic information, like the name of the offender, the crime committed, and the date the shot was taken. If there’s a story behind a particular mug shot, you can count to read about it, making it a one of the most intriguing and badass photobooks you can house in your bookshelf.
Read more Photos on Pages series right here on Lomography Magazine!