Margaret Bourke-White

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This picture of Life Magazine’s photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White atop the Chrysler Building was taken by her dark room assistant Oscar Graubner.

“Photography is a very subtle thing. You must let the camera take you by the hand, as it were, and lead you into your subject.” Margaret Bourke-White led the rest of us by the hand on many occasions. In 1929, she did the lead story for the first issue of Fortune, and the next year was the first Western photographer allowed into the USSR. In 1936, she collaborated with future husband Erskine Caldwell on a book documenting the rural poor of the South. Later that year she became one of the four original LIFE photographers, and had the cover shot for the inaugural issue.

She was America’s first accredited woman photographer in WWII, and the first authorized to fly on a combat mission. She was one of the first to depict the death camps, and later became the last person to interview Gandhi, six hours before he was slain. Her hundreds of thousands of photos are about adventure, sensitivity, composition and courage.

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