Margaret Bourke-White, Self-Portrait

We could find nothing written about Margaret Bourke-White’s self portraits, but the articles that included her self portraits paint an impressive picture of a woman of many firsts. 

One of her first professional clients was Otis Steel Company in Cleveland. 

From Wikipedia: Black-and-white film in that era was sensitive to blue light, not the reds and oranges of hot steel, so she could see the beauty, but the photographs were coming out all black. She solved this problem by bringing along a new style of magnesium flare, which produces white light, and having assistants hold them to light her scenes. Her abilities resulted in some of the best steel factory photographs of that era, which earned her national attention. “To me… industrial forms were all the more beautiful because they were never designed to be beautiful. They had a simplicity of line that came from their direct application of purpose. Industry… had evolved an unconscious beauty – often a hidden beauty that was waiting to be discovered” Margaret Burke-White, Portrait of Myself (New York: Simon and Shuster, 1963), 49.

When she was hired in 1936, Bourke-White was the first female photojournalist at Henry Luce’s LIFE magazine.  Her photograph of the Fort Peck Dam construction appeared on its first cover on November 23, 1936. This cover photograph became such a favorite that it was the 1930s’ representative in the United States Postal Service’s “Celebrate the Century” series of commemorative postage stamps.

Bourke-White was the first female war correspondent, and the first woman to be allowed to work in combat zones during World War II. 

From Time Magazine:

Bourke-White broke ground again and again throughout her career, notching notable assignments not only as the first woman photographer to accomplish this or that, but as the first photographer, period, to cover a variety of momentous events and key figures (heroic and heinous) the world over: in 1930, she was the first Western photographer officially allowed into the USSR; she was America’s first accredited woman photographer in WWII, and the very first authorized to fly on combat missions; she was one of the first (and certainly the most celebrated) of the photographers to document the horrors of Nazi concentration camps after they were liberated in the spring of 1945; she was the last person to interview Mohandas Gandhi before he was assassinated; and on and on. 
self portrait of Margaret Bourke-White

Although Bourke-White continued photographing for LIFE, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in early 1954. Despite physical therapy, by 1957, she could no longer photograph professionally. She fiercely fought Parkinson’s for almost 20 years, enduring rigorous rehabilitation therapy and undergoing two risky brain operations to attempt to halt the progress of the disease. Unable to photograph, she worked from 1955 to 1963 on her autobiography Portrait of Myself. Bourke-White lost her battle against Parkinson’s disease when she died on August 27, 1971.

Self Portrait of Margaret Bourke-White, 1946

Check out a very comprehensive list of Margaret Bourke-White resources at the Library of Congress site here: 

Margaret Bourke-White, Self-Portrait


Margaret Bourke-White, Self-Portrait 

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