Posts Tagged 'w eugene smith'

W. Eugene Smith

William Eugene Smith ( 1918-1978 ) was an American photojournalist known for his refusal to compromise professional standards and his brutally vivid World War II photographs. Born in Wichita, Kansas, Smith graduated from Wichita North High School in 1936. He began his career by taking pictures for two local newspapers, the Eagle and the Beacon. He went to New York City and began work for Newsweek, but was fired from for refusing to use medium format cameras and joined Life Magazine in 1939.

Smith entered World War II on the front lines of the island-hopping American offensive against Japan, photographing U.S. Marines and Japanese prisoners of war at Saipan, Guam, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. Upon leaving Life, Smith joined the Magnum photo agency in 1955. There he started his project to document Pittsburgh. This project consisted of a series of book-length photo essays in which he strove for complete control of his subject matter. Complications from his consumption of drugs and alcohol led to a massive stroke, from which Smith died in 1978.

Today, Smith’s legacy lives on through the W. Eugene Smith Fund to promote “humanistic photography,” which has since 1980 awarded photographers for exceptional accomplishments in the field.

I’ve always been kind of a WW2 guru so the fact that he covered the pacific theater really interested me. I think he portrayed the true grit and anguish of WW2 without going too overboard for that era in history. As a striving photojournalist I can respect that fact that he was a man that understood his vision and was resolute to see it thru. For example, he would often stand instead of ducking for cover to get a better picture of the soldiers. However, this finally caught up with him when he took some shrapnel and was in the hosipital for two months. There was alot of doubt surrounding his recovery and whether or not he could ever maintain his photography work. One day during his recovery period he decided to take a walk and even though he was still in a lot of pain he came away with one of his most famous photographs.