Photo essay

Corporate story telling and social photography, in the form of a photo essay, are 2 of my exam assignments. While studying this genre of photography, I re-visited the Eugene Smith photo essays. Among his most famous essays are Country Doctor, Nurse Midwife, Albert Schweizer, Minimata and Spanish Village. Smith worked for Life and his magazine features set a ‘new standard for evocative picture stories. They showed essential human experiences such as compassion, pride, daily labor, birth, and death, with strength, clarity, and beauty’. In Eugene Smith’s stories all the images are powerful and they can stand by themselves. When Smith run into essay magazine layout issues and got frustrated with restrictions,  he left Life and became a member of the Magnum Photo Agency. With his “Pittsburgh” essay he pushed the essay boundaries as well as this luck. Hardship followed. Despite this he never gave up working on essays. His life story is as intense as his work.

William Eugene Smith (December 30, 1918 – October 15, 1978), was an American photojournalist, renowned for the dedication he devoted to his projects and his uncompromising professional and ethical standards. Smith developed the photo essay into a sophisticated visual form.

Smith said, “Photography is a small voice, at best, but sometimes-just sometimes-one photograph or a group of them can lure our senses to awareness. Much depends on the viewer; in some, photographs can summon enough emotion to be a catalyst to thought. Someone-or perhaps many-among us may be influenced to heed reason, to find a way to right that which is wrong, and may even search for a cure to an illness. The rest of us may perhaps feel a greater sense of understanding and compassion for those whose lives are alien to our own. Photography is a small voice. I believe in it. If it is well conceived, it sometimes works.”

Eugene Smith dedicated his life and his art to a humanistic photography style. He inspires me even though my essay will not be about social inequality or injustice. My essay will feature a social human interest event that celebrates respect, love, spirituality and life’s connection.

Eugene Smith Images

Some very pertinent questions

Viewer or voyeur? The morality of reportage photography

Do you look away from images of real-life horror, or look closer? A series of shocking photographs from Somalia asks disturbing questions about the ethics of bearing witness
The Guardian | Sean O’Hagan about World Press Photos ; plus all the comments from the readers

Farah Abdi Warsameh’s Stoned to Death, Somalia, 13 December. Photograph: AP

Ted Talk : Taryn Simon photographs secret sites

Taryn Simon exhibits her startling take on photography — to reveal worlds and people we would never see otherwise. She shares two projects: one documents otherworldly locations typically kept secret from the public, the other involves haunting portraits of men convicted for crimes they did not commit.

With a large-format camera and a knack for talking her way into forbidden zones, she photographs portions of the American infrastructure inaccessible to its inhabitants.