the walk to paradise garden
William Eugene Smith (1918-1978) expressed without compromise the responsibility of a photographer not to distort the truth. A strong belief that often brought strain in his relationship with editors. In the 1940s he became a war reporter and was so famous about his courage and his dramatic reports were so honest that both the US press and Japanese magazines were publishing them.
On May 22, 1945, during the invasion of Okinawa, he was hit in the face and hand by granade fragments. A fragment passed through his left hand before entering his cheek just below the eye. “I forgot to duck but I got a wonderful shot of those who did… my policy of standing up when the others are down finally caught up with me” he said later in the hospital.
Almost two years and thirty operations after that incident, it was still not certain that he could use a camera again.
“The day I again tried for the first time to make a photograph I could barely load the roll of film into the camera. Yet I was determined that the first photograph would be a contrast to the war photographs and that it would speak an affirmation of life. Thus I took a picture of two children. My children.”
W. Eugene Smith, The walk to Paradise Garden, New York 1946
This image was chosen by Edward Steichen to close the famous exhibition ‘The Family of Man‘