He began taking photographs in 1932 and early subjects included sports, aviation and the Dust Bowl. After studying at Notre Dame University for a year he joined the staff of Newsweek. In 1938 Smith became a freelance photographer working for Life Magazine, Collier's Weekly and the New York Times. In 1942 Smith became a war correspondent and spent most of the next three years covering the Pacific War. His most dramatic photographs were taken during the invasion of Okinawa in April 1945. On 23rd May Smith was seriously wounded by a Japanese shell fragment. He was taking a photograph at the time and the metal passed through his left hand before hitting the face. Smith was forced to return to the United States and he had to endure two years of hospitalization and plastic surgery. In 1947 Smith joined Life Magazine and over the next seven years produced a series of photo-essays that established him as the world's most important photojournalist. These included essays entitled: Country Doctor, Hard Times on Broadway, Spanish Village, Southern Midwife and Man of Mercy. Granted a Guggenheim Fellowship (1956-57), Smith began a massive picture essay of Pittsburgh.
Smith's last great photo-essay, Minamata (1975), deals with the residents of a Japanese fishing village who suffered ...Show more