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Icons in Focus: Margaret Bourke-White

Guts and grit are not only reserved for the battle-hardened soldiers in war. Margaret Bourke-White created a path for herself in many front lines. The famed photographer was not only a role model for women all over the world but also to photographers looking for the next big shot.

Margaret Bourke-White was born on June 14, 1904 in the Bronx, New York. The photographer in White always had a say in her life even after graduating from Cornell University in 1927. White’s formative years were characterized by her love for photography. In 1929, she accepted a job as an associate editor and staff photographer at Fortune magazine. Shortly after, White became the first Western photographer to have had the opportunity to take pictures of the Soviet industry in 1930. From then on, White took off to wherever her passion for photography led her.

Another big break for White was the photojournalist position she held at Life magazine in 1936. Her photo of the Fort Peck Dam construction became the first cover of the renowned magazine. Margaret Bourke-White’s style in photojournalism put her in a level playing field with the leading photojournalists at the time. She was in a profession that was dominated by men.

White’s photographs were simple and composed. This skill in composition was used extensively during her many covers of World War II as a war correspondent. White’s gutsy dedication to her profession was a testament to her iron will. Lovingly called ‘Maggie the Invincible’ by some of the Life staff, White went to places where only few dared to go, all prepared to snap her next larger-than-life photograph.

Margaret Bourke-White was a pioneer in her own right. Not only did she amaze people with the photographs she took but she also inspired women to follow their dreams and aspirations. Her life behind the camera was a tale of guts, determination and style. The famed photojournalist died on August 27, 1971 after losing her battle with Parkinson’s disease. She was 69.

All information and photos used in this article were sourced from Atget Photography, Life, About Women’s History and Wikipedia – Margaret Bourke-White.

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written by cheeo

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Русский.