Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971) was already an established photographer before the Depression hit. By the early twenties, she had established a national reputation for her striking architectural and industrial images.
But in 1935, Fortune sent her to photograph the Dust Bowl. She was shaken from her complacency. In her autobiography, Portrait of Myself, she wrote, "Here were faces engraved with the very paralysis of despair. These were faces I could not pass by" (Sternsher 98). She recounted that in a nightmare she was chased by the Buicks she had photographed for glossy advertisements; they tried to crush her, to swallow her whole. "I could never again face a shiny automobile stuffed with vapid smiles" (Sternsher 98). She turned from advertising to documentary photography.
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