By: Laura Spears
As a young girl, Margaret Bourke White a child with broad interests. She was interested in photography, and with the encouragement and instruction of her father, it became one of her hobbies. She was also interested in science, and wanted to be a zoologist that studied jungle reptiles. As a university student, Margaret majored in herpetology, and used her gift as a photographer to fund her college degree. However, after taking a photography course at Cornell, she decided to switch career paths.
Margaret Graduated from Cornell University at the age of 23 and relocated to Cleveland, Ohio. There, she established herself as a professional photographer, running her own business out of her one bedroom apartment. She used her bathtub as a chemical bath for her photos and stored her supplies in kitchen cabinets. She specialized in photographing architecture and new buildings for businesses. As a hobby, she also photographed subjects she was interested in, like the Otis Steel plant. She developed a very dramatic, unique style of photographing industry and architecture.
It was this style that caught the attention of the publishers of a new periodical, Life Magazine. In 1936, Margaret shot a photo essay for the very first issue of the magazine. Her subject was the construction of the Fort Peck Dam in Montana. The publishers were so impressed with her work, that she became part of their journalistic staff. In the years of the Great Depression, Margaret would shift the focus of her work away from industry and production and become more interested human subjects. Her photo essays at this time dealt mainly with the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Read the rest of this entry »