I have strong and early memories of the photo above, which is titled “Walk to Paradise Garden.” It must have been one of the first photographs I ever really looked at, because it appeared in a book of photographs that was in my home when I was small. I’ll bet some of you grew up with the same book. Does this cover look familiar?
The book was actually the exhibition catalog from The Family of Man, an exhibition organized by Edward Steichen and first shown in 1955 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It has sold more than 4 million copies
I didn’t know until recently that Smith took the photograph, or that he worked in Japan during and after the war. He took mortar fire on Okinawa and was unable to hold a camera for some time. One of the first photographs he took after being wounded was “Walk to Paradise Garden,” this photograph of his young children walking hand in hand towards a clearing in a wood.
As I stood looking at the photograph in Fuji Square, two older Japanese women in front of me were busy calculating how old the little boy and girl in the photograph must be now. Figuring that the kids were maybe two and three when the photograph was shot in 1946, they estimated that they must be pushing 70.
All the photographs on exhibit are from the collection of the Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts in Yamanashi Prefecture.