Old mugshots provide great character reference

illustration of mobsters

A couple of weeks ago, over my morning expresso, I idly read a tweeted recommendation to check out a site featuring police mug shots from Sydney in the 1920's. Well I was utterly gobsmacked when the collection of 90 year old photos loaded. They were packed with more character, pathos and culture than you could poke a stick at.

The police photographer of the time had far exceeded the needs of photography for identification, transforming the mug shots into stunning works of portraiture and valuable cultural time pieces. They also happen to make great reference for some play with ink and a brush! A few of the painting efforts I thought I'd post here. I am happy with the results so far (I have to do more), but they are not a patch on the magnificence of the original photos.

Anyway, thought I'd share the reference resource around as it's such a beaut. Oh, and since finding the website I have also found out there has been a book printed with the mug shot photographs - City of Shadows: Sydney Police Photographs 1912 - 1928, by a chap called Peter Doyle. I must keep an eye out for a copy.