W. Eugene Smith was a war photojournalist known for his photographs of World War II. Amidst all the photographs that he took stands one photo entitled The Walk to Paradise Garden. Read more about the photo on this edition of Flashbacks on Film.
William Eugene Smith started his career by taking photos for local newspapers in Kansas. After his move to New York City, he worked for Newsweek, but was then fired for opting not to use medium format cameras. Smith then started working for LIFE magazine, where he covered events in Guam and Okinawa. During his coverage of wars, he sustained injuries when he was hit by mortar fire. The wounds resulted in years of hospitalization and surgeries. At that time, he never held a camera and it was not certain if he’d ever resume taking photographs again.
The photo above was taken in 1946 when he went out for a walk with his children, Pat and Juanita. He thought that it was a perfect moment to take a photograph after not being able to do so for two years.
While I followed my children into the undergrowth and the group of taller trees – how they were delighted at every little discovery! – and observed them, I suddenly realized that at this moment, in spite of everything, in spite of all the wars and all I had gone through that day, I wanted to sing a sonnet to life and to the courage to go on living it….
At that moment, Smith experienced pain while trying to take the photo and he deemed the photograph imperfect. Despite this, he entered the photo in ‘The Family of Man’ exhibition in 1955 at MoMA and it was chosen as one of 508 photos out of 2 million that were submitted.