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Remembering Joyce Dopkeen Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

3 February 2023

Joyce Dopkeen, the first woman to be hired by The New York Times as a full-time staff photographer, died from heart failure earlier this week in Rockville, Md. She was 80.

Born in Worcester, Mass., her father Saul Kahn Dopkeen was a pediatrician. Her mother Lillian (Cobin) Dopkeen was an artist.

After graduating from the Howard School for Girls, she earned a B.S. degree in photojournalism from Boston University's School of Public Communications.

Her interest in photography had been inspired by the gift of a Polaroid camera from her parents when she was a teen.

She began her photojournalism career right after graduation with an internship at the Montgomery County Sentinel in Maryland.

She subsequently moved to Boston to work as a "spare" photographer for the Boston Globe where she was awarded first place in the United Press International of Massachusetts photography competition in both the personality and feature categories.

At the same time, she also worked as a stringer for the New York Times. In 1973, the Times hired her full time in New York, where she worked until her retirement in 2008.

In the New York Times obituary, Sam Roberts wrote:

Regardless of whether a picture is worth a thousand words, Ms. Dopkeen understood that an article could be updated, rewritten and edited, but that an image was frozen in time.

"It's one thing if a reporter misses a quote," she said in 2019. "They can get a quote from somebody, but if a photographer misses it, that's all she wrote."

She is survived by her sister Leslie Dopkeen and brother Jonathan Dopkeen, four nieces and nephews and four grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

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