The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) has awarded its highest honor, the Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award, to Karen Mullarkey and VII’s Maggie Steber for their commitment to the craft of visual journalism and to education that advances the profession.
Since the inaugural Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award was given by the National Press Photographers Association in 1949, the organization has continued to recognize individuals for their special contributions to the NPPA and the wider field of visual journalism.
Maggie Steber is a Guggenheim Grant Fellow and documentary photographer who has worked in 70 countries photographing stories concerning the human condition. She is affiliated with VII Photo Agency and a contributing photographer to National Geographic magazine. Her honors include Pulitzer Prize Finalist 2019, the Lucie Award for Photojournalism 2019, Leica Medal of Excellence, World Press Photo Foundation, Pictures of the Year, Medal of Honor for Distinguished Service to Journalism from the University of Missouri, the Alicia Patterson Grant, a Knight Foundation Grant and the Ernst Haas Grant.
Steber started as a photographer-reporter at the Galveston (Texas) Daily News after graduating from the University of Texas in 1972. A short while later, she went on to become a picture editor for The Associated Press and eventually director of photography at the Miami Herald, all the while continuing to be a contributing photographer to almost every major magazine. Steber has also continually been drawn back to Haiti hundreds of times over the past three decades, for assignments and personal projects, including her monograph “Dancing on Fire: Photographs From Haiti.”
“I’m thrilled that I have been able to do so many things, and I think it’s kept me in photography,” Steber once told Jimmy Colton in an interview for the NPPA. “I’m so glad I got to be a picture editor. I know it made me a better photographer and a better businesswoman. [But photographing] makes me feel alive, and I’ve been hugely privileged that people let me come into their lives, and I can see where they live and learn what they think and photograph it.”
For her amazing body of work that spans over 40 years, as well as for the constant inspiration, education and mentorship she provides, Steber exemplifies qualities found in Sprague Award winners.