“I’ve never made any picture, good or bad, without paying for it in emotional turmoil.” — W. Eugene Smith
W. Eugene Smith was an American photojournalist renowned for his dedication to his projects and his uncompromising professional and ethical standards.
At the age of 14, Eugene Smith became interested in photography and 3 years later began to photograph for a local newspaper.
He then received a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame only to leave for New York a year later to join the staff of Newsweek and freelanced for LIFE, Collier’s, Harper’s Bazaar, New York Times and many other publications.
During World War II, he was a war correspondent in the Pacific Theatre for the Ziff Davis publishing company and LIFE, for whom he was working when he was severely wounded in Okinawa in 1945.
After 2 years of recuperation, he returned to the magazine and produced some of his best photo essays in “Country Doctor”, “Spanish Village and “A Man of Mercy”.
In 1955, he joined Magnum and began to work on a large study of Pittsburgh for which he received Guggenheim Fellowship in 1956 and 1957.
From 1959 to 1977, he worked for Hitachi in Japan, taught at the New School for Social research and the School of Visual Arts in New York and the University of Arizona.
His last photo essay “Minamata” depicted victims of Mercury poisoning in a Japanese fishing village.
To this day, Eugene Smith is credited for developing the photo essay to its ultimate form.
He also was an exacting printer, and the combination of innovation, integrity and technical mastery in his photography made his work the standard by which photojournalism was measured for many years.
I became acquainted with Eugene Smith’s work through the Art of Photography videos. What stayed with was his level of commitment and devotion to his work, his artistic vision and story telling as well the quality of his work.
Here are a few of his work