Masters of Photography – Margaret Bourke-White

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Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971)

Some people quietly open a door and then gently close it after they have passed through. Others kick down the door and storm through. Whether or not Bourke-White ever kicked down a door, she opened so many that she wouldn’t have had time to be quiet about it. I could easily write a thousand words listing her accomplishments but a few of the highlights will have to suffice.

Margaret Bourke-White was the first foreign photographer allowed to photograph Soviet industry. Not the first female foreign photographer, the first foreign photographer.

She was the first female photographer for Life magazine and one of her photographs was the cover photograph for the first issue of the magazine.

She was the first female war correspondent and the first woman allowed to work in combat zones. While accompanying General George S. Patton through Germany in the spring of 1945, she arrived at the Buchenwald Concentration Camp shortly after its liberation and photographed the horror found there.

She photographed Monhandas K. Ghandi just hours prior to his assassination.

She photographed victims of the dust bowl and collaborated with her then husband and author, Erskine Caldwell, on a book about conditions in the South during the Great Depression – You Have Seen Their Faces (1937).

Again, these are only some of the accomplishments by this photography icon.

Bourke-White died in 1971 of Parkinson’s Disease.

Margaret Bourke-White
Margaret Bourke-White on Flickr Commons

Margaret Bourke-White
Dam at Fort Peck, Montana – This photograph was featured as the cover photo on the first Life magazine – by Margaret Bourke-White on Flickr Commons

Gandhi Beside Spinning Wheel
Gandhi Beside a Spinning Wheel by Margaret Bourke-White on Flickr Commons

Margaret Bourke-White try the train
Try the Train by Margaret Bourke-White on Flickr Commons

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