Shallow depth of field in W. Eugene Smith’s photographs

While searching for articles about DOF I’ve found for myself a great photographer whose work made the world pay attention to its important problems. His high moral norms can still be used as guidelines in humanistic photography. To read about W. Eugene Smith please click here.

In many of his photographs Smith used shallow depth of field and one of the most powerful examples in my opinion is an image of Iwazo FUNABA’s crippled hand, a victim of the disease. Smith focuses on an ill’s hand as an external sign of disease. Minamata disease is a neurological syndrome and most of the symptoms don’t have visual manifestation. So probably it was the best way to show the presence of the illness through making numb limb the subject of the image using shallow depth of field. In the result Smith was able to drew worldwide attention to Minamata disease even though he was attacked and injured because of this work.

Here are some more of his images with shallow DOF that look rally impressive:

More photographs by W. Eugene Smith on Magnum Photos website.

“What uses having a great depth of field, if there is not an adequate depth of feeling?” – W. Eugene Smith


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