William Eugene Smith, byname Gene Smith was born on December 20, 1918, Wichita, Kansas, U.S. and died October 15, 1978 in Tucson, Arizona. He was an American photojournalist. Known for his perfectionism, passionate intensity, & search for deeper poetic/subjective 'truth,' his obsession with jazz, as well as for his own problematic personal demons & addictions.
In 1942 Smith became a war correspondent for Life magazine and covered many of the most important battles of the Pacific. He once said that he saw his photographs of World War II as a powerful emotional catalyst that would help expose the tragedies of war and prevent them from occurring again. His first photograph since his injury was entitled The Walk to Paradise Garden, this view of his own children entering a forest clearing became one of his most famous photographs. He also worked on many projects like the Pittsburgh project and Minamata. W. Eugene Smith was know for his photo-essays yet it was dangerous for him.
The Walk To Paradise Garden by W. Eugene Smith
One day in 1946, Smith took a walk with his two children, Juanita and Patrick and as he was walking with his kids, he took the picture The Walk to Paradise Garden and mentioned this:
"While I followed my children into the undergrowth and the group of taller trees – how they were delighted at every little discovery! – and observed them, I suddenly realized that at this moment, in spite of everything, in spite of all the wars and all I had gone through that day, I wanted to sing a sonnet to life and to the courage to go on living it….Pat saw something in the clearing, he grasped Juanita by the hand and they hurried forward. I dropped a little farther behind the engrossed children, then stopped. Painfully I struggled — almost into panic — with the mechanical iniquities of the camera….I tried to, and ignore the sudden violence of pain that real effort shot again and again through my hand, up my hand, and into my spine … swallowing, sucking, gagging, trying to pull the ugly tasting serum inside, into my mouth and throat, and away from dripping down on the camera….I knew the photograph, though not perfect, and however unimportant to the world, had been held…. I was aware that mentally, spiritually, even physically, I had taken a first good stride away from those past two wasted and stifled years."