Monday 11th December 2017,
Featured Pixels

W. Eugene Smith – A Creative Rebel

W. Eugene Smith – A Creative Rebel

What use is having a great depth of field, if there is not an adequate depth of feeling?”

Ku Klux Klan (KKK) meeting, South Carolina, 1951.© Heirs of W. Eugene Smith

Now this is a man with an interesting mind. W. Eugene Smith, born December 1918 died October 1978, was what I would call a creative prodigy. His mother taught him about photography while he was growing up, and by the age of thirteen he was completely devoted to the craft, and by twenty-one he had been published in dozens of magazines. Eventually he received an assignment to go document World War 2 in the Pacific. Doing what he always did, he through himself wholeheartedly into his work, photographing on land, in the sea, and in the air, hoping to get involved in everything and really experience the war. In his words, “sink into the heart of the picture.”


From what I’ve gathered, Smith was extremely passionate and full of love. That type of personality was observing and taking pictures of the Japanese victims of the war! It was then he began to develop the idea to shoot with the intent of capturing raw imagery to invoke the feeling of social responsibility. He sought to touch the viewers’ emotions and inspire them to work for social justice, to end a war that shouldn’t be happening. As Smith explains, “I wanted my pictures to carry some message against the greed, the stupidity and the intolerance’s that cause these wars.”


Over his career, Smith worked for many different magazines, the Eagle and the Beacon, Newsweek, and eventually Life Magazine. However, he realized a need to separate from the restrictions of the magazine industry and work as an independent artist. It’s easy to sell out, but Smith refused…he always had the satisfaction of being true to himself and he has probably, more than any other individual, raised the art of the photographic essay to unequaled heights.

The history of his career and dedication is truly something to be in awe of. I highly recommend taking a look in further detail at his Portfolio, his Biography, and the other pieces written about him. w. eugen smith 2

I think that basically all of my photographs are failures… I’m not saying that as a self negation or anything like that, I just don’t judge it upon it upon how “good” it was, but rather upon how I’d fail upon what I was trying to say… I think this “Tomoko in her Bath”[above] personally is the best photograph I ever made, it came to say what I was trying to say…”


The belief, the try, a camera and some film – the fragile weapons of my good intentions. With these I fought war.”


The purpose of all art is to cause a deep and emotion, also one that is entertaining or pleasing. Out of the depth and entertainment comes value.”


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About The Author

Creative Mind and Soul from Canada.

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