Who I’m Admiring: Margaret Bourke-White

“The camera is a remarkable instrument. Saturate yourself with your subject and the camera will all but take you by the hand.”

Margaret Bourke White peck dam

Margaret Bourke-White

Margaret Bourke-White is a woman of firsts. She was the first photographer hired by Fortune magazine, the first to have a photo on the cover of Life magazine, the first American photojournalist granted entry to Russia, and the first to document concentration camps at the end of WWII. She is an amazing woman. She often worked under difficult circumstances and is known for her courage and willingness to do anything to get the shot. During her first assignment for Fortune magazine she photographed Swift & Co., a hog processing plant. The conditions were bad due to the stench and blood and her co-worker could not continue. She finished the story {having created the fist photo essay} and left her camera equipment to be burned. She went on to be the first foreign correspondent to cover the start of WWII. She went to India and Pakistan and photographed Gandhi before his assassination. She covered Korea and apartheid in South Africa. She had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Like Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke-White is a giant in the world of photography. She was a pioneer of photojournalism, a humanitarian and one of the most important photographers of the twentieth century. Two recent films covering Bourke-White are Double Exposure: The Story of Margaret Bourke-White and the film Gandhi.

“I have always thought that if I could turn back the pages of history and photograph one man, my choice would be Moses.”

– Margaret Bourke-White, Portrait of Myself by Margaret Bourke-White

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