John H. White: Five Minutes of Light


Chicago-based photographer John H. White (whose work has been highlighted here many times) was awarded the Pulitzer for general excellence in photography in 1982. This general excellence award is no longer awarded. This is the story of the photo (above) that won him his award.

Mr. White was assigned to go to a local dance school to take some pictures on a cloudy day. He didn’t want to use unnatural light (such as a flash) for his photos, so White prayed to God that he would have an afternoon of light. He didn’t get it. Next, he prayed for 15 minutes of light. Still nothing.john_white

“How about 5 minutes of light, God?” he asked. And then, suddenly, a ray of light that came piercing through one of the studio’s windows and he took his pictures.

“I asked for five minutes of light and He gave me a Pulitzer Prize.”

In celebration, it’s Chicago’s Staple Singers with “Uncloudy Day” from 1959.  Released on local Vee Jay Records, it features haunting echoey guitar licks, other-worldly harmonies, and beautifully sparse acoustic production.  The song also forged a brand of socially-conscious gospel that The Staples would eventually be known the world over for.

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About ayanacontreras

i love the transportive powers of sound. i am a radio host/producer, DJ, Sound designer, 45rpm collector, and art lover living in the city of wind. View all posts by ayanacontreras

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