Woman of the Hour: Margaret Bourke-White

14/06/2012 § Leave a comment

Today is the birthday of photographer Margaret Bourke-White.  Born in 1904 in the Bronx, Bourke-White was one of four original LIFE Magazine staff photographers and an accomplished photojournalist.  She holds a number of notable “firsts” to her name — my favorites include the fact that she was the first woman war correspondent and was the first woman allowed to fly on combat missions (both during WWII) — and created an exceptional, varied body of work.

I frequently come across Bourke-White’s photos and portraits in the LIFE Archives, but the one you see above is one that I hadn’t seen before today.  She stands on the scaffolding of the still under-construction Chrysler Building in 1931.  She is 27.  She hasn’t yet been to war.  With her slickly bobbed hair, leather jacket and massive camera, she is outfitted for an adventure.  The look on her face tells you she won’t stop until she finds one.  I love this picture.  Full stop.  But I also love pictures like the one below, of Bourke-White in Algeria in 1943, in front of the Flying Fortress bomber in which the photographed the US attack on Tunis.

If you’d like to see some of Bourke-White’s most iconic work, the LIFE blog has put together a lovely portfolio in honor of her birthday.  It’s a must-see if you admire this amazing photographer as much as I do.  Find it here.

Images via Time/LIFE Inc.

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