Margaret Bourke-White Annual Photography Portfolio Competition

January 22, 2008

The Department of Art administers the annual Margaret Bourke-White Photography Portfolio Competition. Created by an anonymous donor in 2007, the $7,500 juried photography prize is named in honor of illustrious Cornell alumna and renowned photographer Margaret Bourke-White. The competitive prize is open to all currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students at Cornell.


Applications consist of a portfolio of 8-10 photographs with a completed entry form. Entries are submitted directly to the Department of Art office. Details of the 2008 competition will be announced late in the spring semester. The deadline will be in mid-November and the winning portfolio will be announced early in the spring 2009 semester.


"The donor's vision is evident in the substantial prize, as well as the outreach to the entire Cornell community," said Patricia Phillips, chair of the Department of Art. "There are few prizes available to such a wide range of Cornell students." Phillips emphasized that the entry guidelines are quite broad. Subject matter is open and any photographic process including modern or antiquarian, analog and digital, color and/or black and white images are acceptable. entries are reviewed and the prize awarded by a distinguished panels of jurors.


As a young woman Margaret Bourke-White studied photography as a hobby. In 1927 she graduated from Cornell, having partially supported herself by selling photographs she had taken around the campus. Bourke-White went on to help define the emerging field of photojournalism and developed an impressive body of work. Her life of significant accomplishments included a series of "firsts." She was the first woman photojournalist and first photographer for Fortune magazine. She was the first western photographer allowed in the Soviet Union, the first female photographer for Life magazine, and the first female war correspondent during the Second World War. Bourke-White also is known for her striking industrial photography and her haunting images of Depression-era America, and as an author of numerous books about her travels and career. Bourke-White died in Connecticut in 1971 at the age of 67.

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