Earlier this week the Chicago Sun Times laid off it’s entire photography staff and decided to have the reporters take the necessary photos with their i phones. This was an especially sad and poignant day for me. One of those photographers was John H White, Pulitzer Prize winner in 1982. John was an inspiration and a mentor for me for one special day when I was just beginning in photography.
I lived in Mexico City and was a stringer for AP in the mid 70’s. John was there to cover Pope John Paul’s first ever trip of a Pope to Mexico . I covered it for AP. The Mexico City editor for AP told me John wanted to photograph Mexico’s first shantytown and the editor said he’d like someone to accompany him who knew the city and a little of the language. I spent a day with John at the shantytown and after we went back to our lab and developed our film, printed contact sheets and looked at our film. John went through every one of my shots, critiquing, complimenting and sharing his thoughts on composition and what story they told. That is John with the Afro standing in the middle of the crowd of children somehow communicating with them even though he spoke not a word of Spanish. He was gentle, kind, insightful with a warmth that you immediately felt. Here is an interview with him shortly after he was replaced by i Phone toting reporters, a sad day. Below is a link to an interview with John about the layoff. Nikkomat camera and 35mm lens, Tri-X film. You can see some of my photos from that day in the Mexico section or Photojournalism section of my portfolio.