On the totem pole of photography, the mugshot ranks pretty low – which makes these arresting images of Australian criminals all the more remarkable.
Back in the 1920s, someone in the New South Wales police station had a major talent for portraiture – which they applied to hundreds of beautifully composed mugshots that are worlds away from the usual fare.
These compelling photos make up a catalogue of extraordinary human faces, shot in much looser settings than the grim backdrops of today. The clothes are amazing, ranging from natty suits and fedoras to fur coats. And each captivating glimpse makes you wish you knew the story behind the person and their crime. These photos bring their subjects vividly to life – and isn’t that what great photography does?