Dream Streets: W. Eugene Smith

Dream Street: W. Eugene Smith's Pittsburgh Photographs
Born in 1918, Smith began his professional career at the young age of fourteen as a stringer for newspapers in Wichita, Kansas, his hometown(Beauret et al. 4). His worked earned him a scholarship to Notre Dame University, but Smith left after only a year to pursue a career in New York City(4). Soon after arriving in New York City Smith established himself as a photojournalist with his work appearing in America's best- known magazines, including Life, Colliers, and Harper's Bazaar(Stephenson 17). By 1939, his work had yielded him a position as a full- time staff photographer for Life. In 1941 though, Smith resigned from his position at Life, stating that he was "disappointed with the quality of his assignments"(116). Smith's desire for more meaningful work took him to the front lines of World War ?, where he spent two years photographing combat for the Ziff-Davis publishing company(116). Three years after leaving Life, he rejoined the staff as a war correspondent. He spent 1944-1947 traveling through Guam, Saipan, Okinawa, the Philippines, and Iwo Jima, until a shrapnel wound ended his wartime career(117). Reluctantly, Smith returned to Life and spent 1947-1954 working on more than 50 assignments that are considered to be major works in the history of photojournalism. While abroad Smith cultivated the conviction that "photojournalism should work in the service of social justice," which is evident in his better-known works such as the "Nurse Midwife,"showing nobility amidst racism and poverty, and"Country Doctor," about a simple life dedicated to healing(Beauret et al. 7). Although he had gained fame and earned a high salary at Life, he wasn't happy(7). Smith constantly wrangled with editors for control over selection, layout, and captioning of his work(7). Subsequently, he left his position as staff photographer …


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