After being severely wounded in 1945 by Japanese mortar fire at Okinawa while covering World War II for LIFE magazine, W. Eugene Smith returned home to New York state for the long process of recuperation. He was unable to hold a camera properly or take photographs for another year. After multiple surgeries, his first attempt became iconic. Smith chose to photograph his two young children, Patrick and Juanita, scampering through the woods behind the house. The resulting image, entitled “The Walk to Paradise Garden,” became Smith’s most popular. Many have attributed its universal appeal to its perspective from behind, allowing viewers to imagine that Smith’s two children could be their own. Edward Steichen chose it as the final print in his landmark exhibition, The Family of Man, at the Museum of Modern Art in 1955.
Estate Stamped on the verso