YUDZHIN SMITH – SUPPORTER OF “SUBJECTIVE” PHOTO
Eugene Smith (William Eugene Smith), famous in the genre of documentary photography, today is known throughout the world. Throughout his life, he was convinced that photography could not only tell about current events, but also change the world. He was willing to take risks for the sake of a good frame, and many of his works are proof that this risk was justified.
American photojournalist did not seek to maintain objectivity during filming. He tried to convey a subjective view of the situation, to reveal to the viewer his idea of it. He felt responsible for the information he covered to the viewer. Eugene often had conflicts with employers who did not consider it necessary to publish some works or wanted to print pictures that the photographer did not deserve.
Often as a result of controversial situations, Smith ceased cooperation with publishing houses, despite the fees that they were willing to pay for the pictures. Duty to the reader for him has always been more important than material reward.
Smith’s coming to the photo
Eugene Smith was born in Wichita, located in the state of Kansas (USA). It happened on December 30, 1918. The creative potential of the boy was noticeable while studying at school. However, at that time he was more interested in aviation and wanted to become a pilot. The first time Eugene took a camera at the age of 14 to photograph planes. After that, he realized that he had found his calling and his love for aviation faded into the background.
Immediately after graduating from school (1936), Smith began to learn the basics of the art of photography and hone his skills. Unfortunately, from that period of his life there were practically no pictures left. Striving for perfection in everything, he simply burned photos that he considered to be made unprofessionally.
After graduation, Smith enrolled at the prestigious University of Notre Dame, where teachers saw his abilities in the entrance exams. The university administration has developed an individual program for a talented student, but the study did not attract the young man. The program seemed too simple. He also realized that management plans to use his abilities for commercial gain and stopped attending school after the end of the first semester. At the same time, Smith began to work with the publications of Eagle and Beacon.
Professional activities of Eugene Smith
Soon, the young man moved to New York, where he managed to get a position as a full-time photographer in the then-young Newsweek edition. The celebrity came to Eugene pretty quickly. The photographer always wanted to do his job professionally, and he did it. It is worth noting that Smith managed to find an individual style, and his pictures became recognizable even without the signature of the author. Cooperation with the publishing house Newsweek was not long. Smith did not want to work with medium format cameras for which it was impossible to make high-quality images. This was the cause of the conflict.
Since 1939, Smith has worked with Life Magazine. Two years later, the Great Patriotic War began, during which Eugene worked as a press photographer for the editorial offices of Ziff-Davis Publishing and Life Magazine. Being at the forefront, for the sake of a good frame, he often risked, with the result that he was once seriously injured. He was expected for a long two-year treatment and 32 operations. The doctors put the talented photographer on his feet, and he continued to work with Life Magazine.
In 1950, the editors commissioned Eugene to cover the elections taking place in England. Despite the large amount of footage, only some frames were printed. The reason for this was the sympathy of the photographer for Clement Attlee, which contradicted the negative attitude of the editorial board to the Labor Party. However, this did not prevent Smith from expressing his opinion.
The next conflict with the management of the company, which was associated with the selection of material while working on reports about A. Schweitzer, occurred in 1955. As a result, the photographer left his post. In the same year, he concluded an agreement with the international photo agency Magnum. In 1971, Eugene, without fear of danger, highlighted the problem of mercury poisoning in Japan, where he was subsequently severely beaten. The pictures taken at that time became known to the whole world. In 1978, the talented documentary photographer was gone.
Unsurpassed Documentary Photo Wizard
During his life, 59 years old, Eugene Smith learned what wealth and poverty are. However, the material condition was the last thing he paid attention to. Also, the photographer did not strive for universal recognition and encouragement from employers. He was fascinated by the process to which he gave all of himself. Sometimes even the family went into the background. In the photographs of a documentary photojournalist, his unruly temper is displayed.