Michelle Agins

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Michelle V. Agins has been a staff photographer at the New York Times since June 1989, and is the company’s second Black female staff photographer.

Michelle graduated from Rosary College, now Dominican University, where in 2019, I was presented with an honorary doctoral degree. Also that year, I received the Joseph Spragg Memorial Award from the National Press Photographers Association. In 2021, I was inducted into the Black Journalists Hall of Fame by the National Association of Black Journalists, and in 2023, I received the lifetime achievement award from the Newswomen’s Club of New York.


She began her career in the 1970s in her hometown of Chicago as a photography intern for the Chicago Daily News, moving on to become a sports photographer there. She taught photography both at Loyola University and University of Illinois, Chicago. After a brief stint at the South Shore Sentinel Newspaper, she took a job as a photographer and audio-visual specialist for the City of Chicago’s Department of Human Services.

When Harold Washington became Chicago’s first Black mayor in 1983, Michelle became his office photographer, a position she held until 1987 when she joined the Charlotte Observer.

Michelle’s photographs have been widely exhibited and her work has been recognized by many professional organizations. Her 1989 work on the Bensonhurst protests and her 1994 work “Another America: Life on 129th Street” were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She was part of the Times team that won the Pulitzer in 2001 for the series “How Race Is Lived In America.”

Michelle has been awarded an honorary degree from Dominican University, from which she graduated. And in 2019, she was awarded the National Press Photographers Association’s highest honor, the Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award, for her “commitment to the craft of visual journalism and to education that advances the profession.”