Eugene Smith shot unforgettable images and stories that changed the face of documentary photography. He lived by the phrase, "sink into the heart of the picture", and it showed in his photographs in Country Doctor (1948), Spanish Village (1951), Man of Mercy (1954), Pittsburg and many more. He chose to become a combat photographer and concentrated on the theme of social righteousness to inspire his audience to work for the common good and oppose the conflicts of war and evil; however, he preferred his photography to be considered a work of art not the typical journalistic photograph.
All of Eugene Smith's pictures reflect the aid an individual can give to others and the power the world contains to change itself for better or for worse. The photo essays on Country Doctor, Nurse Midwife and Albert Schweitzer portrays the willingness of healers to help others when they"re patients are at their weakest. His pictures during World War II showed the ability for compassion to shine through during the worst annihilating events.
Minamata, his most renowned photographic project on the effects of industrial pollution in Japan, completed in the early 70s, is a limitless product of the wartime photographs. This was also an outcome of the cruel reality of individuals and society, which taint the environment and, in the process of generating capital, inflict astonishing human suffering. Its significance to the people of Minamata is among Smith's greatest legacies to the human race from which he created his stories.
Life magazine employed him after WWII but working there was not his ideal vocation but rather as an independent artist. He always preferred to compose his own layout format, which went against Life editor's authority. Many of his pictures were published through Life magazine but what he truly wanted out of his photo essays could not be granted by Life. Much of that had to do with his eagerness and demands to compose the stories on his own.