White never thought she would be a famous photographer.
In 1921, when Margaretwas 17, she went to college to study herpetology, or the study of snakes andreptiles. That same year her father died leaving her family with little money.To stay in college Margaret got a job taking and selling pictures of the collegecampus using her fathers broken camera. That summer she got a job as thephotographer and counselor at a summer camp. Even though she liked takingpictures, for Margaret, photography was still a hobby. But architects and otherphotographers were impressed with her photographs and encouraged her to use hertalent. When she graduated in 1927, Margaret turned down a position at theMuseum of Natural History and went to Cleveland to open her own photographystudio.
Margaret had courage and talent from the beginning. At first she didadvertising work for schools and other businesses but never stopped working onher artistic skills. For example, as she was walking by she noticed a preacherspeaking in a square with only a group of pigeons to hear.
Margaret wanted totake his picture but she didn’t have her camera with her. She ran into a camerastore and asked to rent or borrow a camera. The picture became one of her firstworks of art and the owner of the store became one of her best friends.
One ofMargaret’s early dreams was to photograph the inside of a steel mill but womenweren’t allowed inside. Being a woman didn’t stop her and the pictures were asuccess. Her shots were published in magazines all over the country and gotMargaret her first big job, at Fortune magazine in New York. With Margaret’sphotos Fortune became one of the leading photography magazines. The magazine hadalso made her a star but Margaret still kept her studio, which had grown to astaff of eight and moved to the Chrysler building. In 1930 Fortune sent Margareton one of her biggest assignments, to Germany to capture foreign industry.
Curious about the Soviet Union she wanted to extend her trip but very fewforeigners were allowed into the country. As she once said, “nothingattracts me like a closed door.” Margaret never gave up and, afterimpressing Russian officials with her portfolio, was admitted into the country.She made a total of three trips and gained a reputation for being and expert onRussian industry.
In 1931 she wrote her first book, Eyes on Russia. During WorldWar II Margaret was sent Europe to cover the war. She got pictures of her ownship being torpedoed and became the first woman in a bomber.
She also went withGeneral Patton’s troops to be one of the firsts to photograph a concentrationcamp. When she returned to the U.S. she wrote another book about the war, PurpleHeart Valley.
In 1950 Margaret was awarded an American Women of Achievementaward but only seven years later she would no longer be able to hold a camera.She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease but at first refused to believe thediagnosis. Margaret Bourke- White died in 1971, at 67 years old. Margaret wasone of the greatest photographers but also one of the greatest women.
She pavedthe way for many women in all professions, not just photographers, with hercourage and determination.