One of the most successful Life photographers was Margaret Bourke-White, whom I first met in 1934. She had just moved into her studio on one of the top floors of the Chrysler Building and I recall a giant aluminum gargoyle clearly visible through the large window. Her assistant, a nervous young man, said, “Please be seated,” but there was nothing to sit on. Bourke-White entered the room briskly and cordially greeted me. She was dressed with great chic, on the edge of flamboyancy, and moved and talked with marvelous vitality. She explained that she was preparing for an assignment and could give me but a few moments—“My helper is checking my cameras right now.” At that moment a loud crash came from the adjacent room; the camera and tripod on which the young man was working had suddenly collapsed and were severely damaged. Bourke-White reacted with composure, saying to him, “Please call for another Speed Graphic right away.” Stating she would pick up the camera on the way to the airport, she gave me a warm adieu, abandoning me in her pristine office with the broken camera still lying on the floor.
“Ansel Adams: An Autobiography”