John H. White (photojournalist)

This article is about the American photojournalist. For the chess writer, see John Herbert White.

John H. White (born 1945) is an American photojournalist.

Early life

When John H. White was nine years old, a teacher told him that he would grow up to work on a garbage truck because he was slow in math. At home, his father told him to grow up to his best, to look for the best in others, and if he were to work on a garbage truck, fine...just be sure he is the driver. White has said that this was a turning point in his life.

Photo career

White's father also played a pivotal role in his photography. At age 14, White's church burned down and his father asked him to take photos of the destruction and reconstruction. White now credits this first assignment with his focus on photo stories.

White joined the staff of the Chicago Sun Times in 1978 and still works there today. He also teaches photojournalism at Columbia College Chicago, and formerly taught at Northwestern University. In 1973 and 1974 White worked for the Environmental Protection Agency`s DOCUMERICA project photographing Chicago and its African American community. White's photographs show the difficulties facing residents as well as their spirit and pride.

White was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Photojournalism in 1982 for his "consistently excellent work on a variety of subjects." White has also won three National Headliner Awards, was the first photographer inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame, was awarded the Chicago Press Photographer Association's Photographer of the Year award five times, and, in 1999, received the Chicago Medal of Merit.

Hal Buell, the former head of the Associated Press Photography Service, noted that White is one of the best photographers at capturing the everyday vignette. White has published a book about Cardinal Bernardin, but he has yet to publish a book of his work outside the religious realm.

White has said that he lives by three words: faith, focus, flight. "I'm faithful to my purpose, my mission, my assignment, my work, my dreams. I stay focused on what I'm doing and what's important. And I keep in flight—I spread my wings and do it."


  • "The camera is this great tool, this wonderful passport, that allows me to go out there and be the eyes for others."
  • "When I'm out shooting and people ask me where the pictures are going to be, I say, ’I shoot for page one.' "
  • "Keep in flight."
  • "Good better best, Never let them rest, Till your good is better, And your better best"


External links

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