Who inspires you? - Shelley Costello Photography
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Who inspires you?

21 Dec Who inspires you?


In photography, I’ve been inspired by a several people…a few of whom are no longer with us.

One of them is Margaret Bourke-White, who was an American photographer and the first American female photo journalist. She did a lot of firsts because she was also the first female photographer for LIFE magazine, where her photo appeared on the cover.

She focused on commercial architectural and industrial photography and worked with the Otis Steel Company. As a woman working in a man’s environment (this was the 1920’s!) she was frowned upon.

After getting in, she had technical issues. Black and white film at that time was sensitive to blue light and not the reds and oranges of hot steel. She could SEE the beauty of the images but they came out consistently black.


To solve this, she bought out a new style, called magnesium flare, that produced white light and she had assistants hold them to produce the light for her scenes. This resulted in some of the greatest steel factory photos of the era and earned her national attention.

She worked for Fortune Magazine and then went on to LIFE magazine and it was her photo of the construction of the Fort Peck Dam that featured in the first issue of LIFE.

Although all of those things inspired me about Margaret Bourke-White, what really touched me was she went on to greater things. She produced some gut wrenching photos during the war that were described as, “one of the most effective chronicles of violence’.

Definitely in the right place at the right time, she interviewed Mohandas K. Gandhi just a few hours before his assassination in 1948.

When I first decided to become a professional photographer, I embarked on a diploma. Part of the course meant researching the history of photography and cultural and historic influences on photographic practice. In doing this research I developed a strong desire to do something meaningful with my photography. Work that contributes to something greater and that raises awareness of sensitive issues by relaying the stories and emotion to others through images.My intention was to advance my technical knowledge of course and gain accreditation, but what it gave me, quite unexpectedly, is an aspiration.

Who inspires you?

Margaret Bourke- White 1852 by Thomas J. Abercrombie.

Mohandas Gandhi, ‘The Father of India’, a few hours before his assassination in 1948.

Ladel B, Otis Steel Mill, Cleveland, 1930

LIFE cover 11-23-1936, First cover w. Ft. Peck Dam.