20 March 2016
In a matter of years, photography evolved from black and white daguerreotypes to brightly colored autochrome. Many photographers experimented with different photographic processes and created their own artistic styles. The photos I have chosen for this paper are by photographers W. Eugene Smith and Dorothea Lange. Their works, Tomoko in Her Bath and Migrant Mother are two beautiful images that display the intimacy and pain of a mother and her children in two different ways.
W. Eugene Smith was a photojournalist famous for his work during WWII and various photo essays in popular magazines like LIFE. It was one such photo essay that included the photo Tomoko in Her Bath which brought attention to Minamata disease. Minamata disease is “a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning, was first discovered in that Japanese city in 1956. Caused by the release of methyl mercury in the industrial wastewater from the Chisso Corporation’s chemical factory from 1932 to 1968.” (“Iconic Photos”). The photo is of Tomoko Uemara, who was severely deformed before birth, while her mother bathed her. What drew me to this photo was the intimacy between a mother and her child. The way she looks at her child, regardless of her physical differences, with such loving eyes. I feel as if Smith captured that loving essence. I can also feel the pain, the pain of seeing her child in this condition. It is still a beautiful photo. It is said that the photo was staged for Smith but the family asked that it be removed from circulation. It no longer appeared in any of Smith’s later works. However, due to the exposure from the photo essay Smith was “attacked and seriously injured by Chisso employees which left him with a permanently damaged eye and a crippled health.” (“Iconic Photos”). It lead to an investigation and the company had to pay compensation to over 2,000 people. Tomoko lived to be 21.
Dorothea Lange was...