Least Wanted

One of the most fascinating photostreams on Flickr isn’t fashion related; it’s not filled with photos of landscapes or cute animals. It’s Least Wanted’s stream of vintage mugshots. The photos date from the early 1900’s all the way through the 80’s. Some give nothing more than an image of the face while some contain information ranging from age and height to occupations and reasons for arrest. I can get lost for hours digging through this photostream, imagining the stories that go with each of the photos. The crimes listed range from vagrancy and begging to public drunkenness to being a communist to writing bad checks. Recorded occupations run the gamut from fireman to chauffer to divine healer.

The old saying goes “the eyes are the windows of the soul”. Something about the way the mugshots force the subject to look directly into the lens of the camera reveals an intimate look that a normal snapshot doesn’t show. Most casual snapshots are taken of happy moments that you want to capture in order to remember them. In contrast, these are images of people in distress, perhaps angry, sad or scared. Each one tells a story and I think that's the most important thing a photograph can do.