Let’s add another strong, independent, talented, female photographer to our Artist Spotlight for June. Today is American photographer, Margaret Bourke-White’s birthday (6/14/1904 - 8/27/1971). I remember hearing Margaret Bourke-White's name in photography courses, but I do not remember that her work was shown. Nor do I remember that her life, accomplishments, and work were discussed at length. I decided to remedy that for myself by actively seeking out books and other information about Bourke-White. I managed to secure a used copy of Margaret Bourke-White A Biography by Vicki Goldberg last year. But, even before reading the biography, I can tell you that she was a determined, disciplined woman who knew how to create a public persona in order to open doors traditionally shut to women of her generation. The barriers she broke, the places she went, and the subjects she photographed are pretty amazing in and of themselves. But, then there are her images … This quote makes it all sound so much easier than it actually is and was.
The camera indeed took her by the hand, and, oh the places they went. She was the first female photojournalist for Life magazine. She was also the first female war correspondent AND she was allowed in combat war zones in World War II. She was certainly willing to go to extremes to capture an image. This sentence that appeared early in the book hints at her daring nature:
I was unable to find a sample of images to share with you without violating copyright law, so, in the Sources, I have included a link to an article that includes a small sampling of Margaret Bourke-White's images (Post Gazette article), as well as the link to a tribute film.
I do wish I could have shown you the image of Bourke-White as a war correspondent with coiffed hair, full make-up, manicured nails, and a HUGE camera (probably 8x10 format camera with glass plates) at the ready. I am constantly amazed at the spunk of the young women of the 1940's. They remind me of my Great Aunt Alta who once told me about driving from rural Texas to California with another young Army wife to do their part during the War. They have become an inspiration and the very definition of chutzpah for me.