Photographer Biography – SMITH, EUGENE

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SMITH, EUGENE
USA, 1918-1978

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W. Eugene Smith (1918-1978) was an American photojournalist known for his refusal to compromise professional standards and his brutally vivid World War II photographs.

Born in Wichita, Kansas, Smith began his career by taking pictures for two local newspapers, the Eagle and the Beacon. When he went to New York City, he began work for Newsweek and became known personally for his incessant perfectionism and thorny personality. Smith was fired from Newsweek for refusing to use the type of camera his boss wanted and joined Life Magazine in 1939. He soon resigned from Life and was wounded in 1942 while simulating battle conditions for Parade.

As a correspondent for Ziff-Davis Publishing, Smith entered World War II on the front lines of the island hopping American offensive against Japan, photographing U.S. Marines at Saipan, Guam, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. On Okinawa, Smith was hit by mortar fire; after his recovery, he rejoined Life and perfected the photo essay from 1947 to 1954. Smith severed his ties with Life again over their use of his Albert Schweitzer and began a series of book-length photo shoots in which he strove for complete control of his subject matter. Complications from drugs and alcohol led to a massive stroke from which Smith died in 1978.

Here are some of his photos:

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Civilians After The Battle For Saipan

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