War Photographer W. Eugene Smith

National World War II Memorial, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Photo taken by Kmf164 on December 6, 2005.

National World War II Memorial, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Photo taken by Kmf164 on December 6, 2005.

W. Eugene Smith is best known for his uncompromising photo essays of the battlefield, prisoners-of-war, and U.S. Marines. Working for Life Magazine, Smith photographed the front lines of World War II and was injured several times before being unable to return to the field.

The Walk to Paradise Garden, the W. Eugene Smith photo on view at the Brooks as part of Shared Vision, is of an altogether different– sentimental, variety.

The injuries he suffered during the war were so debilitating, Smith was unsure he would ever be physically capable of picking up a camera again. It was not until his two children, emerging from a dark alcove toward the light of the sun, provided him with the perfect “decisive moment” that he found the energy to give it a shot. With their backs to him, he managed to load the film into his camera and capture an all to life-affirming photograph. He was back in the game.