The Answer to Name That Photographer is…

MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE
(1904-1971) 

Margaret Bourke-White Portrait 1943Margaret Bourke-White was an extraordinary photographer and a woman of many firsts. Not only was she the first female photojournalist for Life magazine and the first photographer  for Fortune magazine, but she was also the first female war correspondent allowed to work in combat zones during World War II, and also the first Western photographer allowed into the Soviet Union.

Before becoming a photographer, she attended five different universities in pursuit of a degree in Herpatology (the study of reptiles), eventually receiving her degree from Cornell in 1927.

She was born in the Bronx to intense parents, Minnie Bourke and Joseph White, who believed in reading and improving the mind. They did not allow things like comic books or chewing gum. Bourke-White enjoyed photography as a hobby and had a father who supported her interest. She studied with Clarence White, a leader in the pictorial school of photography, before moving to Cleveland, Ohio to launch her career. Her first job was as an industrial photographer at the Otis Steel Mill, which brought her much acclaim.

She married twice, once at a young age, then again to writer, Erskine Caldwell, whom she collaborated with on several book projects, including You Have Seen Their Faces, documenting the depression.

Margaret Bourke-White Photo

“Utter truth is essential and that is what stirs me when I look through the camera”–Margaret Bourke-White

Bourke-White photographed everything from apartheid and the horrible working conditions in South Africa’s gold and diamond minds to Nazi death camps to the U.S. fight against Communism in Korea. Her work in the Soviet Union was ground-breaking, and her images of America were dizzying.
Margaret Bourke-White Louiseville
Margaret Bourke-White cameraMargaret Bourke-White
“The camera is a remarkable instrument. Saturate yourself with your subject, and the camera will all but take you by the hand and point the way.”–MBW

Margaret Bourke-White Camera Queen

Margaret Bourke-White clearly made a huge mark on photography, and proved that women are just as capable as men, even in the most difficult situations.

To see additional photos by Margaret Bourke-White, click on the highlighted link. You can also check out her work on Amazon (click on this book to get started).

Here’s a list of some of the books she created:
You Have Seen Their Faces, 1937 with Erskine Caldwell
North of the Danube, 1939 with Erskine Caldwell
Shooting the Russian War, 1942
They Called it “Purple Heart Valley”, 1944
Halfway to Freedom; a report on the new India, 1949
Portrait of Myself, 1963
Dear Fatherland, rest quietly, 1946
The Taste of War (selections from her writings edited by Jonathon Silverman

FYI: I just read that Barbara Streisand is hoping to direct her first movie in 16 years–”Skinny and Cat,” a love story about Margaret Bourke-White and her late husband, writer Erskine Caldwell. You can read about it here.

Name That Photographer

Name That Photographer GraphicSee if you can NAME THAT PHOTOGRAPHER from the following five clues:

1) She was an American photographer born in 1904.

2) She was the first female war correspondent and the first female permitted to work in combat zones.

3) She created this iconic image of Gandhi at his spinning wheel.

Photo of Gandhi at his spinning wheel

4) She was the first Western photographer allowed to take pictures of Soviet industry.

5) She battled Parkinson’s disease for 18 years and died of it at age 67.

Leave your answer in the comment box and find out tomorrow if you are correct!

The Art of Fatherhood

“Hey guys, how were oceans made?”

When one of our daughter’s classic, epic questions swirled from the back seat of the car to the front, then danced around our heads, I could do little more than smile, take a deep breath, and hope with every ounce of my being that it would land squarely on the shoulders of my husband.

Being sleep-deprived from our puppy’s middle-of-the-night antics, I could barely muster up enough energy to go get coffee, let alone have a deep, philosophical conversation about the universe. I had the patience of a flea.

I sat there waiting, and silently willing my husband to come up with a brilliant answer, so I wouldn’t have to. When he finally began, “Well sweetie, that is one of life’s great questions…” then launched into an exquisite dissertation about philosophy, religion and scientific theory, my eyes brimmed with tears.

Those words spilling from his mouth reminded me once again why I love this man so much, and why he is the epitome of a rock star father and husband.

It also made me appreciate just how “present” Jeffrey is in our daughter’s life. I don’t remember ever having a deep, philosophical conversation with my dad—at least nothing more profound than, “Rocky road or vanilla?” In fact, my dad never did any of the things Jeffrey does with our daughter. He never helped me with my homework, read to me, organized play dates, or took me on bike rides. Nor did he cook meals, help plan birthday parties, do artwork with me, set up lemonade stands, or take me on special dates. And the thought of him being a room parent or a chaperone on a school field trip? That makes me laugh out loud. I don’t think he even knew my teachers’ names.

Photo of a father and daughter riding bikesPhoto of a father and daughter playing basketballFather and daughter doing potteryPhoto of a father and daughter at HalloweenFather room parent at schoolPhoto of a father and daughter doing homework

But here’s the thing: I have nothing but fond memories of my dad and my childhood. Even though he was far from perfect and far from uber involved, I felt loved and nurtured by him. I don’t know if that’s the magic of a father or if that’s how I choose to remember him. Whatever the case, on this Father’s Day, I send a big shout out to my dad, the first man in my life who made me feel strong, smart and special.

I celebrate not only who he was and how hard he worked, but the impact he made on my life. Not only did he always treat me like an equal to my three older brothers, but he instilled in me a work ethic that has stayed with me my whole life. Most importantly, he believed in me—no matter what crazy idea I chased after—like figuring out how to get myself through college, even though he knew he wouldn’t be around to help me pay for it.

Photo of father and daughter at the beachFather and daughter fishing

Photo of dad and kids at beachDad wasn’t a gushy guy. In fact, I’m not sure I ever heard him say, “I love you.” It didn’t matter though; I knew he did.

The last five words he uttered to me before he died summed up his style and our relationship best. He simply smiled through the pain and morphine and said, “You are a tough bird,” which translated to: “I love you, be strong, and carry on. I know you will be fine without me.”

I’ve leaned on those simple five words many times over the years, and because of them I’ve always known I could stand on my own two feet and take on life’s adventures without being afraid.

A father’s words can be profoundly powerful. I can only imagine the strength our daughter is soaking up from Jeffrey. She may not fully understand or appreciate all that her daddy-o does or says quite yet, but I have no doubt it’s all sinking into the right places, slowly building a foundation that will support her throughout her life.

So here’s to you, my rock star husband. Thank you for being the person you are and for making fatherhood a priority. Thank you for answering the tough questions when I haven’t had my coffee, and thank you for always making our daughter feel strong, smart and special.

I know the world is your canvas. The fact that you have chosen to create your most meaningful art right here at home means everything.

Happy Father’s Day.

Favorite Five Friday: Sounds

Most sounds you hear, from the whisper of the wind to the wail of a siren, are simply moving air. When a noise is made it causes the air to vibrate, and these vibrations, also known as sound waves, carry the sound to your ears. I’m curious to know what sounds you like best. Below are a few of my favorites.

Graphic for Favorite Five Friday: Sounds

Take five minutes or less and leave your favorite five in the comment box! I hope these sounds fill your ears today. Happy Friday everyone!

I’m Walking on Sunshine…

“And don’t it feel good?” Thank you Katrina and the Waves for planting that catchy little tune in my head, and thank you Tina Fariss Barbour for nominating me for the Sunshine Award. As Katrina would sing, “Yeah, if feels good!”

Sunshine blog award graphic

There’s nothing quite like sunshine to make me feel happy and light, and nothing like the blogging community to make me appreciative of its boundless support and generosity.

I’m told the Sunshine Award is given to: “Bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” 

It gives me great pleasure to receive the Sunshine Award from Tina Fariss Barbour who writes her powerful and honest blog, Bringing Along OCD. I met Tina through a women’s writing group called She Writes, and have since appreciated reading her blog, marveling at her journey with overcoming OCD and depression. By sharing her experiences and all she has learned (and continues to learn), Tina helps hundreds of people every day. I applaud not only her stellar writing, but her courage in sharing her journey, and shining a light on mental health issues which affect millions of people. Check out her blog if you or anybody you know is grappling with OCD, anxiety or depression. You will immediately gain a deeper understanding of what it’s like for those who live with it, and be inspired by how Tina is channeling it. Here’s the link: Bringing Along OCD.

As part of this award, I’m asked to answer ten random questions about myself. So here it goes…

1) What are you reading right now?
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Because my name is mother by Deborah Batterman
The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs by Patricia McConnell (Yep, I’m trying to get inside the head of our new puppy)!

2) What is your favorite place to write?
In my backyard next to our roses and rosemary bush, near the orange tree–usually in my red chaise lounge.

3) Favorite season?
Summer time, summer time…sum sum, summer time!

4) Favorite sound?
Laughter.

5) Favorite gadget
iPod Shuffle (the size of a postage stamp–great for running). Guess I’d be a little lost without my iPhone too, but that might be a good thing.

6) Who inspires you?
People who don’t let their circumstances get in the way of greatness (Tina Fariss Barbour is a good example), and those who chase after their dreams and take risks without worrying about what others think.

7) Beer or wine?
Usually wine, but I also appreciate a nice cold Negra Modelo with a slice of lime once in a while.

8 ) What drives you?
Learning new things, sharing ideas, contributing in some small way.

9) Paisley or polka dots?
Both, but never together.

10) Favorite flower?
It’s a toss-up between tulips and hydrangeas, but then there are roses and camellias and lilies and wildflowers…and…

In the spirit of spreading sunshine to others, I’d like to pass The Sunshine Award along to the following bloggers:

Monica Medina at Monica’s Tangled Web
Debra Eve at Late Bloomer
Melissa at Writing for Daisies
Jayne Martin at  injaynesworld

Congratulations, ladies! Now go out and nominate other “Bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” And don’t forget to answer ten random questions about yourselves. Happy blogging!

The Winner of the iTunes Gift Card is…

 DEBORAH BATTERMAN

Congratulations, Deborah! Your iTunes gift card will be emailed today. Thanks to all of you for participating and sharing your fun comments! I have the best blog followers of anybody out there in the blogosphere.

I leave you on this Monday with a few thoughts about courage and creativity:

“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure”  –Bill Cosby

“Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work” –Rita Mae Brown

“Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.”  –Dee Hock

And don’t forget…today your heart will beat 100,000 times. Make each one count!

Apple-icious News and a Contest to Celebrate It

Steve and i book coverAfter sixty-five days in Apple’s “review process,” our ibook, Steve & i is finally available for purchase in the iTunes store.

We nearly gave up on Apple, but then remembered our reason for creating this book: to celebrate Steve Jobs and the friendship he and my husband, Jeffrey Aaronson, forged when they were both young and hungry, and to raise money for cancer research by contributing a portion of the sale of each book to prominent cancer institutes.

It’s hard not to chuckle though, wondering what the fine folks at Apple were doing with our book for the past sixty-five days. Keep in mind Steve & i is a little powerhouse 40 page book–including photographs and a video, and it took Amazon and Barnes & Noble less than a week to upload it onto their sites.

Just for fun…because I’m in such a good mood…I thought I’d hold a contest.

Leave a comment with your answer to: “What do you think Apple was doing with our book for the past 65 days?” and your name will automatically be entered into a random drawing for a $10 iTunes gift card. Humor is always appreciated!

Enter by Sunday, June 10th at midnight. The winner will be announced on Monday, June 11th.

In the meantime, we hope you’ll download a copy of the book for $2.99, and if you feel inspired by what you read, please leave a review. Your continued support and kindness is very much appreciated (and will also bring you a bucketload of good karma)!

Here’s the link to the iTunes store: Steve & i: One Photographer’s Improbable Journey with Steve Jobs

In the event you don’t have an iPad or idevice, here are other ways to purchase the book:
Amazon Kindle ebook
Barnes and Noble Nook ebook

Here’s to being inspired, re-living an unique piece of history, and seeing beyond the icon, Steve Jobs, to the complex and charismatic human being who not only “put a ding in the universe,” but did it in a way nobody else ever could.

Photo of Steve Jobs, 1984 inside Apple Computer headquarters, Cupertino, CA

Steve Jobs inside Apple Headquarters, 1984, just prior to the launch of the first Macintosh 128K computer. ©Jeffrey Aaronson

“An absolutely gorgeous, moving and important memoir. Steve Jobs was complicated, sweet, mad, inspirational beyond reason. Thank you for sharing this.”

                                        –Review by Doug Menuez

Remembering June 4th

Today the Shanghai Stock Exchange fell 64.89 points. This may not seem like dramatic news to most people, but for anybody who remembers June 4, 1989 (6489), this brings chills.

June 4th is the day the Tiananmen Square Massacre took place 23 years ago in Beijing, China; when the Chinese government ordered the People’s Liberation Army to fire upon thousands of unarmed civilians who were peacefully demonstrating during the Democracy Movement.

Photo of the Democracy Movement in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, ChinaPhoto of Tiananmen Square crackdown, Beijing, China 1989

The Chinese Communist Party has never released a death toll from the crackdown, but estimates range from several hundred to several thousand by witnesses and human rights groups.

June 4th is an extremely sensitive topic in China, and is also one of the most censored. You won’t find mention of it anywhere in Chinese history books. In fact, most people born after 1989 don’t even know it happened.

You can imagine the nervousness of the Communist Party today when the stock exchange closed 64.89 points lower, reminding everyone once again of a date it has been trying to erase from history for the past 23 years. Even more spooky is that the Shanghai Composite Index opened at 2,346.98—as in “Let’s not forget 23 years ago, on 4 June,’89 (only the year’s digits are switched).

It made the Politiburo so paranoid, in fact, that it blocked microbloggers on China’s most popular version of Twitter, censoring anything related to June 4th. Messages containing words like stock exchange, 23, 6/4, remember, tanks, and never forget were blocked.

The Chinese have always been superstitious about numbers. Just flash back to the Beijing Olympics, held on 8/8/08 starting at 8:08 because the number 8 is considered lucky. Some say today’s symbolic ticker numbers were brought on by the Karmic gods. Others speculate the stock exchange was hacked by clever activists. Whatever the case, clearly it was meant for all the world to remember what happened in Tiananmen Square twenty-three years ago and to honor the innocent victims.

As you may remember, my husband, Jeffrey Aaronson, was in the middle of the Democracy Movement when it unfolded in Tiananmen Square. If you missed my post about it and are interested in reading it, you can click on the link below:

My Crash Course in Living Through the Lens

In honor or remembering Tiananmen, I’m also posting a small excerpt from my book in progress, The Art of an Improbable Life: My Twenty Years with an International Photojournalist.

Chapter Ten

Tiananmen’s Shadow
Beijing, China
2000-01

 

As Zhang Xianling cradles her son’s motorcycle helmet, remembering the last time she saw him alive, tears begin to pool in the corner of her eyes, betraying the iron fortitude she normally wears.

“The bullet entered Wang Nan’s head above his left eye,” Zhang begins as she looks up at Jeffrey, “and exited behind his ear, penetrating the motorcycle helmet he was wearing.”

Jeffrey winces, then feels his stomach tighten as if he’s just been kicked in the gut. Though he’s witnessed much agony in the world as a photojournalist, he’s never hardened to it.

“Nan was a junior in high school,” Zhang continues. “He had gone out to take pictures the night of June 3rd. He was passionate about photography and wanted to capture history.”

Then she stops and closes her eyes. After inhaling a sonorous breath of calm and courage, she continues, “The instant his flash went off, a soldier aimed his gun and shot him through the head.”

The sorrow draped across Zhang Xianling’s face reinforces why Jeffrey has risked so much to be here: This mother’s story deserves to be told. And so do all the others.

Eleven years earlier Jeffrey had been in Tiananmen Square photographing China’s Democracy Movement, capturing the exuberance of students and workers peacefully demonstrating, hoping to bring change to their country. He documented a million people marching with banners and flags, protesters carrying anti-corruption placards and hunger strikers facing off with a government they believed was no longer listening to their demands for a more open society.

Jeffrey had spent an entire month in Beijing that hot spring of 1989, but it wasn’t until now that he was finally able to reveal what had happened on the night of June 3rd, and into the pre-dawn hours of June 4th, when the Chinese government ordered the People’s Liberation Army to quash the Democracy Movement with resounding force. Hundreds, if not thousands, of unarmed Chinese civilians were killed by the PLA as soldiers randomly shot into the crowd fleeing Tiananmen Square and the surrounding areas.

This act, which quickly became known as the June 4th Massacre, or the Tiananmen Massacre, is something the Chinese government has tried to cover up ever since, and something the victim’s families have struggled with as they seek justice and accountability.

Jeffrey hopes his photo project will bring the June 4th Massacre to light again, to show the world what really happened. His story won’t involve graphic images of bodies mowed down by the PLA, but instead, iconic portraits of family members of the victims, and those casualties of the movement who survived, but whose lives have been shattered. Their testimony about the massacre will also accompany the photographs he is creating . . .

more…

Here’s to remembering June 4th and never forgetting those who have been silenced.