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Photographer: William Eugene Smith
By W. Eugene Smith, Ben Maddow, John G. Morris
Publisher: Aperture
Publication date: 1998
Print length: 240 pages
Language: English
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Let Truth Be The Prejudice documents the life and work of W. Eugene Smith, a man whose work expanded the range and depth of photography, bringing new aesthetic and moral power to the photo essay. Smith was born in 1918 in Wichita, Kansas, and raised according to traditional American values, believing in the nobility of America and the injustice of war. He began taking pictures with his mother's camera while still a boy and continued this practice throughout his schooling. In 1937 his burning ambition took him to New York City, where his rise as a professional photographer was meteoric.

Before he was twenty-one, Smith had placed hundreds of photographs in the major picture magazines of the time. Dramatic composition, a hard-edged brilliance, and a mastery of lighting were evident even in this early work. But the moment of true ground-breaking would occur during World War II. It was when Smith went ashore with the Marines at Saipan, Guam, and Iwo Jima that his work and his sense of moral responsibility came together. He wrote: "Each time I pressed the shutter release it was a shouted condemnation hurled with the hope that they might echo through the minds of men in the future-- causing them caution and remembrance and realization." Breaking from the concerns of the mass media, his personal priorities were born. Smith's war photographs earned him repeated and justified comparisons to Mathew Brady. His coverage of American prisoner-of-war camps helped convince the Japanese that their fears were exaggerated, and stopped the suicide of thousands of terrified citizens upon the advance of American troops. This would not be the last time that Smith's work would change as well as document history.
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