Mary DiBiase Blaich

Evelyn Strauss was the first woman staff photographer at The News. I worked with her during the 1970s before she retired. Evelyn told me how she became a photographer.  During World War II, she worked in the photo library.

So many of the male photographers left to serve in the war, she was asked to switch over to the photography department to fill in. She stayed.  

I was interviewed for a photo lab job in 1974. I was 23 years old. That was the gateway in those years to becoming a photographer. No one was hired directly as a photographer.  I had to delay my start because I couldn’t leave my current job (assistant production editor for Seventeen Magazine) for a few weeks. The News hired Linda Kopczyk, and I came in a few weeks later in September 1974.  Linda left after about 18 months.  Deirdre Drohan came next. Linda Cataffo came in 1979 to work on a new afternoon edition called “tonight”.  They closed that edition one year later, laying off Linda.  She returned to the News several years later.  Deidre and I worked until 1982, when we were the only two women, and took buyouts. There was a gap of a few years before another woman was hired. 

I left to start my family, but I have worked continuously. I worked at my YMCA, taking in-house photos for their publications as well as teaching adult ed photography. They paid me and gave me a discount on my children’s nursery school tuition. I acquired a number of clients and I spent 25 years freelancing for The New York Times and actually took a few freelance assignments for The News recently.  Most of my work now is for Catholic New York, a newspaper for the NY Archdiocese, and have been a freelancer for them since 1992. I switched to digital in 2001. At 67, I still shoot!