After 40-Year Career, Detroit Photographer Steps out From Behind the Lens

Mary Schroeder joined the Detroit Free Press as an intern in 1979. 40 years later, she’ll retire as one of the paper’s most celebrated photojournalists.

Mary Schroeder / Detroit Free Press

Click the audio player above to hear the full conversation. CultureShift airs weekdays 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit public radio.

It’s one of Mary Schroeder’s most recognizable images — former Detroit Tiger Kirk Gibson celebrating by jumping up and down in the air after hitting a 3-run homer in Game 5 of the 1984 World Series.

“It’s one of the most iconic (photos) in all of Michigan history,” says Schroeder. “UPI, AP, Sports Illustrated, Reuters, the Detroit News, everybody — they were all male photographers. Not one of the boys got it.”

After nearly 40 years of taking photos for the Detroit Free Press, Schroeder retired at the beginning of 2019.

She joined the paper as an intern in 1979 and would go on to become a trailblazer in the male-dominated arena of sports photography over the past four decades.

You can see a full slideshow of her most iconic work over her career via the Detroit Free Press.

She spoke with CultureShift’s Ryan Patrick Hooper about some of her favorite memories of working as a photojournalist and photo editor over the years.

“I could photograph somebody homeless in the morning and then the CEO of GM in the afternoon,” says Schroeder. “I have to be able to talk to each one of them and listen to their story.”

Schroeder says she hopes to teach photography during her retirement.

Click the audio player above to hear the full conversation with longtime Detroit Free Press photographer and photo editor Mary Schroeder about her 40-year career with the paper.


  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.