"untitled" - Pittsburgh Steel 1955 - W Eugene Smith

I keep name checking W Eugene Smith and yet I keep finding people who know nothing about the man, And thus another of my inspirations series is in hand.


Who was W Eugene Smith? Its a complex question - born in Wichita Kansas in 1918, first hooked by photography at 13 and by 21 published in magazine after magazine, a combat photographer who was fearless to the point of what some considered suicidal bravery, wounded in battle, obsessive, impossible to work with, perfectionist, drug addict, master, genius.


Yet Smith is much more - it was his exposure to the suffering of war victims in the pacific that moved him to document images in the name of social responsobility, that moved him to generate the most amazing work of his career - its this work, the images from Miyamata of mercury poisoned victims, his steel workers, his obsession with Pittsburgh that turned a 2 week assignment into 3 years work with no end, all of it combines to add up to a driven tortured genius.


In the end Smith died penniless at just 58 and left behind over 44'000 pounds of archival material and images - a man who would spend days in the darkroom its his black and white work, obsessively created in the camera or the darkroom that leaves us with the legacy of one of the greatest photographers in the history of the art.


You can read more about Smith here : www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/smith_w.html


And see a selection of images here : masters-of-photography.com/S/smith/smith.html


Note that I in no way claim creation, copyright, ownership or control of this image in any way. It was taken from a public domain site where it is presented as a wallpaper image and will be taken down if requested.

  • F Lynch 9y

    Smith is one of my favorite photographers, hands down. A few years ago there was an exhibit of his Pittsburgh shots at the International Center for Photography in Manhattan, and that was my first exposure. I was more than happy to buy the book, Dream Street. This steel worker shot is wonderfully gritty, but there are so many great shots throughout the whole book.

    The exhibit did show some of his other work, too, though, and there was a very sweet shot of two children walking into a clearing, holding hands, the shot taken from behind. Very nice.

    The Dream Street book is available through Amazon ( www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393044084/ ) and may also be available through your local bookstore. This guy was the real thing, deserves to be up there with that French dude. :-)
  • monkeyc.net PRO 9y

    The 2 kids is "walk to paradise garden" - probably one of Smiths most famous works, I have a print of it somwehere, framed, lovely work.

    As for the book.. Well there goes the Amazon gift voucher they gave me for screwing up my last order :)

    Smith is every bit the master, definetly up there with HCB - theres also a Phaidon book in the 55 series on him : www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/stores/series/-/397/ref=pd_...

    These are really worth buying actually - theyre cheap ($7.96 US) and each one is a masterpiece of a photographers work - The Smith and Walker Evans books are in particular gems of US Masterwork photographers.
  • dagr PRO 9y

    In the winter of 2002 I got tired of doing Ansel Adams inspired landscapes. Actually, I was getting bored to death by them. Around the same time I bought the "W. Eugene Smith 1934-1975" book, and it just "clicked".

    This was what photography was supposed to be about; the misunderstood artist, fighting "the good fight" against social injustice.

    My thinking may have changed, but I still remember fondly how I called every (all two of them!) machine/tool-workshop in the tiny (pop: 1400) village I was in at the time, begging them to let me do documentary stuff for a couple of days.The inspiration was the Pittsburgh series, and more specifically the pictures from the smelting works, one of which you show here....

    A few images are available here... they're not much, but I think you can spot the "Smith-influence" :) :: www.flickr.com/photos/65011241@N00/sets/72157594223949072/
  • jacopsman 8y

    Eugene Smih, is one of the best photographers ever!
  • _SiD_ 7y

  • Montegari Photography 7y

    The little boy in the photo mentioned above is a close family friend. He is the son of Eugene and the little girl is his sister. I am only recently realizing how many other people are enamored of his father's work. The man WAS his work...... a true artist.

    I found this page via the new Life mag archives on google and thought I'd share the link: images.google.com/images?hl=en&sa=X&oi=spell&...

    All the best to all of you!
  • _SiD_ 7y

    The BBC's incredible "Genius of Photography" shines a great light on W Eugene Smith.
  • Ryan Riegner 7y

    hi, I'm a freelance designer working on a job for a framing company in Pittsburgh, and I was really hoping to use this image on the company's business card. Unfortunately, the budget with the company is extremely tight, and I cannot offer compensation for permission, but if it is possible to allow this, I'd greatly appreciate it. Please respond to this as soon as possible with a response. Thanks for the time.

    Ryan Riegner
    Freelance Designer
    (814) 573 7350
  • F Lynch 7y

  • _SiD_ 7y

    I think you better go back and see if they'll up the budget… to cover your legal expenses.
  • F Lynch 7y

    ya think?
  • darren muir 4y

    Ryan Riegner LOL. tut tut.
  • gbgannaway 3y

    I don't think you need to say "the legacy of one of the greatest photographers in the history of the art." If you omitted "photographers", it would still be appropriate.
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Uploaded on March 26, 2006
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