Mug shot of Valerie Lowe, 15 February 1922, Central Police Station, Sydney.
pecial photographs" were mostly taken in the cells at the Central Police Station, Sydney and are, as curator Peter Doyle explains, of "men and women recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their apprehension". Doyle suggests that, compared with the subjects of prison mug shots, "the subjects of the Special Photographs seem to have been allowed - perhaps invited - to position and compose themselves for the camera as they liked. Their photographic identity thus seemsSpecial Photograph no 744. Valerie Lowe and Joseph Messenger were arrested in 1921 for breaking into an army warehouse and stealing boots and overcoats to the value of 29 pounds 3 shillings. The following year, when this photograph were taken, they were charged with breaking and entering a dwelling. Those charges were eventually dropped but they were arrested again later that year for stealing a saddle and bridle from Rosebery Racecourse. In 1923 Lowe was convicted of breaking into a house at Enfield and stealing money and jewellery to the value of 40 pounds. See also 'Mug shot of Joseph Messenger.'
This picture is one of a series of around 2500 "special photographs" taken by New South Wales Police Department photographers between 1910 and 1930. These "s constructed out of a potent alchemy of inborn disposition, personal history, learned habits and idiosyncrasies, chosen personal style (haircut, clothing, accessories) and physical characteristics."