This is the first photograph that Smith took after two years of recuperation for injuries sustained while covering World War II. As he writes (collected in Art and Artist):
The children in the photograph are my children, and the day I made this photographic effort, I was not sure I would be capable of ever photographing again.
It was a good day on which to try. A beautiful, warm spring day to cradle a man’s efforts to reclaim himself. The children…approached a clearing roughly arched by the trees, and I became acutely sensitive to the lines forming the scene and to the bright shower of light pouring into the opening and spilling down the path toward us. Pat saw something in the clearing, he grasped Juanita by the hand and they hurried forward. I dropped a little farther behind the engrossed children, then stopped. Painfully I struggled—almost into panic—with the mechanical iniquities of the camera…I composed the setting as I labored…tried to, and did ignore the sudden violence of pain that real effort shot again and again through my hand, up my arm, and into my spine…swallowing, sucking, gagging, trying to pull the ugly tasting serum inside, into my mouth and throat, and away from dripping down on the camera where it would obscure the clarity of the image…preparing, testing, checking the approaching merger of the subject factors…tensing tighter and tighter the delicate pressure on the shutter release, trying to anticipate in time to defeat my reaction lag…and, as the children stepped in space, to complete my foreseen composition, I pressed the camera release to retain the image of that instant—to hold secure on film the vision of this minute fraction of time floating within eternity.
The reaction was immediate. I knew the photograph, though not perfect, and however unimportant to the world, had been held. Shock waves of feeling released through me, breaking damply out of my flesh…I was aware that mentally, spiritually, even physically, I had taken a first good stride away from those past two wasted and stifled years.