Dennis Copeland has twice been a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize as a member of newspaper staffs in California and Florida. He was a member of the staff of the Orange County Register in California that was awarded the 1985 Pulitzer Prize in Spot News Photography for its coverage of the 1984 Olympic games. Copeland, assistant photo director, was involved in planning the newspaper’s coverage of the Olympics in Los Angeles. Later, as director of photography for the Miami Herald, Copeland was a member of the staff that won the 1993 Public Service Award for its coverage of Hurricane Andrew. Copeland planned the newspaper’s photo coverage of Hurricane Andrew, and the photo staff was a finalist in the Spot News Photography category. Copeland earned his bachelor’s degree in telecommunications in 1977 from Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communication.
Since 2009, Copeland has worked as the marketing photo manager for the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn. In his current work, he photographs advertising content and produces video commercials and other video-related content. Copeland has worked with the Commercial Appeal since 1999, when he was hired as the assistant managing editor for photography. After five years, he moved to the online department as manager and started the newspaper’s video efforts with a project called AppealTV, which gives readers daily videos related to stories in the newspaper.
A native of Dallas, Copeland learned news photography techniques from friends at the Dallas Times Herald and the Dallas Morning News. He attended Richland Junior College in Dallas, before transferring to Texas Tech, where he worked as a photographer for the University Daily, now the Daily Toreador. Copeland was hired as a staff photographer at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in 1979, and in 1981, he became chief photographer at the Odessa-American, working for two years as a photographer/manager and film editor.
Beginning editing full-time in California at the Orange County Register, Copeland first worked as photo editor and then as the assistant photo director. During the newspaper’s coverage of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, The Los Angeles Times had 24 credentialed photographers, but Copeland’s newspaper only was allowed three credentials. Over 16 days of the competitions, Copeland edited 2,500 images and coordinated film runners from Orange County. On the last day of the games, he was able to attend the diving finals and took his photo of Olympic gold medalist, Greg Louganis, which was included in the entry for the Pulitzer.
Two years later, he accepted a job at The Miami Herald as photo editor. He was promoted to director of photography the next year. During his 12 years with The Herald, Copeland directed coverage in Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and several other Latin American countries. He supervised photographers in the Gulf War and duringboth of Pope John Paul’s visits to Cuba and Miami. During his work there, he was a member of the staff that won the Pulitzer for Hurricane Andrew coverage.