While I was doing a short stint in photography school, W. Eugene Smith quickly became an idol. I studied his photographs, tried to model his work. I was not successful, but I remain awed by the depth of his eye and how seriously he took his craft.
Smith’s ‘Country Doctor’ photo essay in 1948 remains a favorite. Nice to see LIFE reproducing it though the prints don’t look that great–very high contrast and muddy compared to what I remember. Odd, since Smith was obsessive about his prints, often spending days refining a single image.
To see a great collection of Eugene Smith’s images, take a look at the Life & Magnum websites:
- Eugene Smith’s ‘Country Doctor,’ 1948 – LIFE
- Magnum Photo’s collection
- Google image search of W. Eugene Smith
The “Walk to Paradise Garden” poster image was the first photograph Smith created after recovering from life-threatening injuries he suffered during WWII. The children in the picture are Smith’s.
After witnessing so much death and suffering, he consciously chose a subject full of life and hope.