Margaret Bourke- White, the first female American war photojournalist, and LIFE magazines first female staff photographer. She is best known as the first foreign photographer permitted to take pictures of Soviet five-year plan.
Born June 14th, 1904, Bourke- White’s passion for photography began early in life. Her father was enthusiastic about cameras, and encouraged her to pursue her hobby.In 1928, following her fathers death, she moved to Ohio from New York to open up her own commercial photography studio. She wanted to focus on architectural and industrial photography.
In 1929, she accepted a job as associate editor and staff photographer of Fortune magazine. Her photograph of the Fort Peck Dam construction appeared on the cover of Life magazines first cover on November 23, 1936.
Bourke-White was the first female war correspondent and the first woman to be allowed to work in combat zones during World War II, and the only foreign photographer in Moscow during the German invasion, often coming under fire. She wanted to capture how Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia were faring under Nazism. In 1945, she traveled to Buchenwald, a notorious concentration camp. She said that her camera was a comfort to her as she witnessed the monstrosities of the camp. It was her shield between herself and the world around her.
Bourke- White set the bar high, achieving many firsts for female photographers for the generations to come. Her fearlessness and motivation made it possible to stay brave and capture important historical moments even in the face of danger. She is inspiring to me as a heroic woman. Today, her photographs are in the Brooklyn Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York as well as in the collection of the Library of Congress.
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