W. Eugene Smith (1918-1978) was an American photojournalist best known for his documentary photographs of World War II. He was born in Wichita, Kansas. Smith began his career working as a photographer for the town's local newspapers, the Eagle and the Beacon. He moved on to a job at Newsweek in New York City and developed a reputation for his perfectionism and his stubborn personality. He was subsequently fired for his refusal to work with medium-format cameras. He began work for Life Magazine in 1939. Smith began to document scenes of World War II as a correspondent photographing U.S. Marines and Japanese prisoners of war at Saipan, Guam, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. While on assignment, Smith was wounded by mortar fire. Smith left Life after a disagreement over the way the magazine chose to use his portraits of Albert Schweitzer. In 1955, Smith joined Magnum photo agency and began to document life in Pittsburgh, completing a series of photo-essays on the subject. Smith died in 1978. Since 1980, the W. Eugene Smith Fund has carried on his legacy, promoting "humanistic photography," granting awards to photographers for their accomplishments in this field.

W. Eugene Smith (2005)