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The Photographers: Margaret Bourke-White


Margaret Bourke-White is one of the most famous photographers of all time. I first became aware of her work when I was eighteen years old, during the late 1980s, living in the desert. I happened to find an advertiser’s copy of the first issue of LIFE magazine, upon which a Margaret Bourke-White photo of Fort Peck Dam appears. Inside the issue was a pictorial of the construction of Fort Peck Dam. Ms. Bourke-White was the first female staff photographer at LIFE. She was the first female war correspondent, during World War II, capturing harrowing images from the Liberation of Buchenwald. She was the first photographer to be allowed to photograph Soviet industry inside the Soviet Union. She captured haunting images of sharecroppers during the Great Depression, working together with author Erksine Caldwell (later her husband) on the book “You Have Seen Their Faces.”

Margaret Bourke -White took this famous photo, for LIFE magazine, of Ohio River flood victims in 1937, Louisville, Kentucky.

Margaret Bourke-White for LIFE magazine. No copyright infringement intended Fair Use for commentary.


She photographed Gandhi, and the violence of a fractured India. Margaret Bourke-White went places that women did not go, taking photographs of things often thought better not to be seen by women, in a time when women did not work as she worked, as an independent professional photographer and photojournalist. She was a pioneer for women in her field, and as such, an inspiration.



Links to Margaret Bourke-White photos:


Gandhi, Time Magazine

The Liberation of Buchenwald (This gallery contains graphic holocaust images), Time Magazine

The Partition of India, (This gallery contains graphic images), Time-Life Magazine

Getty Images, 6,903 Images

About Margaret in India


Margaret’s Autobiography



Photo by: Oscar Graubner, Margaret Bourke-White on an eagle head gargoyle at the top of the Chrysler Building with her camera, New York, 1935.

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