Sunday, October 28, 2012

Final Paper: Analysis Exercise 7&8

            For my final paper my research question will be, “What did Margaret Bourke White focus on in her images?” I want to explore what White saw throughout her jobs, was it the people? The materials? The people? The community? Or the politics?
            The specific topic I’ve chosen is Margaret Bourke-White’s images during the late 1920’s early 1930’s. I will analyze three of White’s most famous photographs from throughout her career. The Images I will focus on include, “Mahatma Gandhi 1946,” “At the time of the Louisville flood 1937,” and “ The living dead of Buchenwald 1945.”
            Each of the images are strong black and white images focusing on the people and their expressions in the images. For the portrait of Mahatma his expression is serene, distracted, indirect and seemingly at ease therefore allowing the viewer to see him in this light. Also, we cannot see exactly where he is, we know it’s a room but there is an absence of place and therefore an attentive pull towards the person and not the place. For the Louisville the image is instantly and clearly meant to be ironic. There is a line of African Americans waiting in line for refuge from the flood, yet they are standing below a sign that says, “World’s highest standard of living: there’s no way like the American way.” Its irony is clear and can be interpreted in many ways. The absence of seeing where they are going makes you wonder who is handing them food and help? Perhaps it’s a group of white folks? Perhaps it’s a group of African Americans. Either way we still remain curious of where their line (in hope of something better will) end up. Last but not least we see “The living dead of Buchenwald,” and they truly do look like the living dead. White captured these men in a time of despair what really draws us in is their sunken expressions behind a barbed wire fence. We want to reach out and help, reach out and know their story. They are in despair and Margaret has captured these emotions from this period of time for forever. White has captured three very different types of images from the context to the expressions what is White really focusing on?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"At the Time of the Louisville Flood:" Analysis Exercise 5&6

Title:  "At the Time of the Louisville Flood"
Photographer:  Margaret Bourke-White
Date:  1937
Location:  Louisville, Kentucky

            It is plain to see that a single photojournalist captured the image, this photojournalist is known as Margaret Bourke-White. According to the caption the image was made in 1937 “During the Great Ohio River Flood of 1937, at the height of the Great Depression…” (“Behind the picture:.” 1937). It was originally published in Life Magazine. It is a photograph created by White’s famous large format camera. The caption from Life magazine reads, “During the Great Ohio River Flood of 1937, at the height of the Great Depression, African Americans in Louisville, Kentucky, line up seeking food and clothing from a relief station, in front of a billboard ironically proclaiming, "World's Highest Standard of Living." While this information is crucial to the image one can easily see that these people are suffering. These people are the subject of the picture; they are standing in line in for an ounce of hope whether it be food or clothing. Ironically they stand in front of an “American Dream” billboard. The people in the billboard are white, smiling and wealthy looking. While these folks in line are mostly African-American and suffering from a terrible natural disaster. I believe the purpose of this image is to illustrate the events occurring all over America during the Great Depression. This image touched on both the Depression and the great Ohio River Flood as well.
            In my research I have learned that the photographer, Margaret Bourke-White was one of the first female photojournalists. “She completed college at Cornell and opened her own photographic studio in Cleveland” (Cox Ph.D , 2003). It is clear that White had an eye for the progress and downfall throughout America. Also, she was hired as “became one of the first group of photographers hired by Life(Cox Ph.D , 2003). White’s importance grew rapidly in the photo-journalistic and visual world. Her images had audiences captivated, curious and concerned with the issues she covered. According to Life Magazine that picture has, for generations, been the Great Depression photo, somehow distilling in one frame the anguish that defined the economic cataclysm of the Twenties and Thirties.”(“Behind the picture:.” 1937). I believe this to be true because of the emotion, irony and setting of the image being so strong.

Works Cited:
Behind the picture: Bourke-white's American way photo and the flood of '37. (1937, 02 08). Retrieved from

Cox Ph.D , P. (2003, January). The digital journalist. Retrieved from

Susan Goldman, R. (1999). Margaret bourke-white : her pictures were her life . New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams.
(Susan Goldman, 1999)