A new book argues the case for the mugshot as art

Katy June-Friesen in Smithsonian Magazine:

Mugshot_bevhillsThe faces are “right out of central casting,” says Mark Michaelson. For a decade, the graphic designer collected old mug shots—he got them from a retired cop in Scranton, Pennsylvania, from a file cabinet bought at a Georgia auction and stuffed with pictures, and from eBay—until he had tens of thousands. All of them might have remained the personal collection of this self-described pack rat. But with the growing popularity of vernacular, or found, photographs, Michaelson’s trove suddenly had wider appeal. This past fall, he exhibited the mug shots in a New York City gallery and published them in a book slicker than an L.A. loan shark.

Michaelson, who has worked at Newsweek, Radar and other magazines, got interested in underworld imagery after a friend gave him a Wanted poster of Patty Hearst. For his collection, however, he avoided famous people and notorious criminals in favor of what he calls “the small-timers, the least wanted.”

More here.