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Life Of W. Eugene Smith Essay

1221 words - 5 pages

William Eugene Smith was an American photographer who produced photographic projects that changed how photographs were portrayed. Rather than a photo being a photo, he told stories through his photographs, through a practice called photojournalism. His photographic projects depicted people in their everyday lives, but in different situations. The photographs he took did not hide anything that he saw from the audience no matter how graphic the scenery may appear to be. His photography methods differed from traditional methods, in that traditional photographs/photographic projects were a distortion of reality, so that it is more pleasing to the audience. Smith on the other showed what was actually going on in the world or wherever he was shooting photos. His photos basically showed his audience what is happening in various parts of the world and showing people as they are living their normal lives, no matter how depressing or graphic their true lives might be. Smith changed photography, and in my opinion, opened the new world of photojournalism by telling stories with his photographs.
Born to Nettie Lee Smith and Bill Smith on December 18, 1918 in Wichita, Kansas was William Eugene Smith, who would later revolutionize photography. His mother Nettie was into photography, taking photos of her family, especially her two sons as they grew up, photographing events of their lives (Hughes 2). Photography had been a part of Smith’s life since he was young. At first it started out always being photographed by his mother, and then turned into taking photographs along with his friend Pete, as he got older. They often practiced developing photos in Nettie’s kitchen, and he later began to create albums with his photographs. His photographs differed from his mothers of her depicting her sons’ lives, and instead his pictures had a story behind it, the way they were arranged. An example was five photographs he took of the Labor Day motorboat races, which described the event in a narrative form (Hughes 12). In 1936, Smith graduated high school and attended Notre Dame University, where a special photographic scholarship was awarded to him (Magnum Photos). However, a year later, Smith left the university, and went to study at New York Institute of Photography. In the same year, 1937, Gene was hired to work for Newsweek, where his first two photo assignments were to photograph the Rockettes at Radio City Hall and the other project was to photograph a medical operation. Many of the editors and other photographers at Newsweek were impressed by Smith’s photographs, and he secured a job at Newsweek. His newfound employment fulfilled his goal of becoming a professional photojournalist. However, down the line he was to change the way he took photographs, which he obliged to at first; Smith was to use a larger camera, a tripod and the old fashioned open shutter technique whenever he needed flash (Hughes 49). He later decided that the smaller camera he used was better to...

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