Must see 10 iconic photos of W. Eugene Smith for Photographers

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

“I’ve never made any picture, good or bad, without paying for it in emotional turmoil.”

W. Eugene Smith with him Cameras at Pittsburgh, 1957

William Eugene Smith (December 30, 1918 – October 15, 1978) was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1918. He took his first photographs at the age of 15 for two local newspapers. In 1936, Smith entered Notre Dame University in Wichita, where a special photographic scholarship was created for him. A year later he left the university and went to New York City. In 1937, he began working for News-Week (later Newsweek).

Smith worked as a war correspondent for Flying magazine (1943-44), and a year later for LIFE. He followed the island-hopping American offensive against Japan and suffered severe injuries while simulating battle conditions for Parade, which required him to undergo surgery for the next two years.

His 1948 series, Country Doctor, photographed for Life magazine is now recognized as "the first extended editorial photo story"

Still today his legacy goes on through the W. Eugene Smith Fund to promote "Humanistic Photography" which was established 1980 to recognize and fund exceptional works.

More About Eugene Smith at Magnum Site

Country Doctor Dr. Ceriani on the way to visit his patients in their remote villages. Kremmling, Colorado, USA. 1948. W. Eugene Smith © 1965, 2017 The Heirs of W. Eugene Smith / Magnum Photos © W. Eugene Smith

The Walk to Paradise Garden / (C) W. Eugene Smith

Nun Waiting for Survivors, Andrea Doria, 1956 Copyright: Magnum Photos

Photo From Project Minamata, ( Which will be a Hollywood movie) Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath is a photograph taken by American photojournalist W. Eugene Smith in 1971. Many commentators regard Tomoko as Smith's greatest work.

Country doctor Ernest Ceriani photographed after having performed a caesarean section during which both baby and mother died due to complications. The picture, taken in Kremmling, Colorado, was part of Smith’s groundbreaking photo essay for Life magazine in 1948. Photograph: W Eugene Smith/Life/Gett

Charlie Chaplin on the set of his film "Limelight," 1952. (Photo by W. Eugene Smith/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

The Pacific campaign , World War II , June 1944 /Magnum Photos

American Army nurse Florence Vehmeier and wounded GI in a makeshift hospital, Leyte, the Philippines, 1944. (Photo by W. Eugene Smith/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Three Generations of Miners. A Welsh Coal-Mining Town, Wales, Great Britain, 1950

Relatives and friends pay their respects at a wake in Deleitosa, Spain, for Spanish Village, Smith’s 1951 essay for Life magazine. Photograph: W Eugene Smith/Life/Getty

Movie on Smith’s Minamata project

The movie follows his journey and all the dangers of creating a photo essay of Minamata, where he lived with his wife between 1971 and 1973. Smith brought to light the story of the effects of mercury poisoning in Minamata, caused by a Chisso factory discharging heavy metals into water sources. He was even attacked by the factory employees who wanted to stop him from publishing the story, which caused him to lose the eyesight in one eye. His photos and words were published in the 1975 book Minamata: The Story of the Poisoning of a City, and of the People Who Chose to Carry the Burden of Courage.

One of the most famous photos from this essay is Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath, which is one of the most recognizable and iconic Smith’s images.

All Photos are subject to Copy Right by (C) Photographer


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