Kevin P. Coughlin is a Pulitzer Prize-sharing photojournalist, writer, director of photography, pilot, and aerial cinematographer. He is currently the executive photographer for New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. His photographs at Ground Zero following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and while covering funerals and memorial services of fallen fire fighters, police officers, and emergency personnel killed as a result of the attacks are included in the 2002 Pulitzer Prize awarded to The New York Times for Public Service. In addition to The New York Times, his photographs have appeared in the New York Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, Business Week, People, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Time, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. He has also written magazine articles for GQ and News Photographer.
Coughlin grew up in the Long Island, New York suburb of Farmingdale where he attended and graduated from public schools there. He later attended St. John's University in Jamaica, Queens, NY from 1985 to 1989, where he studied photography and journalism. He also served as a staff photographer and subsequently as photo editor of the student newspaper, The Torch and interned as a photographer for Newsday in Melville, New York. After graduation, between 1989 and 1991, he worked as a freelance photographer for Newsday, the Associated Press, United Press International, and for The National Sports Daily under legendary sports photographer and picture editor Neil Leifer. On August 15, 1991, Coughlin persuaded an HBO camera crew to allow him in a cherry picker for an aerial shot of an estimated crowd of 750,000 people attending a free concert by Paul Simon in New York's Central Park. Simon saw the photograph a week later in Newsweek and contacted Coughlin to use the image for his album and video release: Paul Simon's Concert in the Park, August 15, 1991.
Coughlin landed his first staff photographer job with the Asbury Park Press in Neptune, New Jersey in late 1991. Two years later, he accepted a staff photographer position with New Jersey's largest newspaper, The Star-Ledger of Newark. In August 1994 while covering the Woodstock '94 Music and Arts Festival in Saugerties, New York, he was informed by telephone that he no longer had a job. Upon returning from Woodstock, he quickly found work freelancing for the New York Daily News and later for the New York Post where he remained a full-time stringer until 1998.
From 1998 to 2004, Coughlin became a full-time stringer for The New York Times covering his native Long Island. In 2002, he was honored for his visual contributions to The New York Times' Pulitzer Prize–winning series: "A Nation Challenged". His work later appeared in two Times-published books: PORTRAITS 9/11/01 and A Nation Challenged: A Visual History of 9/11 and it’s Aftermath. The New York Times won the 2002 Pulitzer Prizes in the Breaking News Photography, Feature Photography and Public Service categories. Coughlin was a team member for the latter grouping.
Following a freelance contract dispute with the Times in 2004, Coughlin returned to the New York Post as a sports photographer and later as a part-time photo editor. During his seven-year return stint at the Post, Coughlin covered mostly professional sporting events and led its coverage for Super Bowl XLII in 2009 and the World Series in 2009. He also worked on personal projects at his own expense, such as traveling to Vatican City to cover the funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005. In 2008, he was a pool photographer during the visit to New York City by Pope Benedict XVI and for a Papal Mass held at the original Yankee Stadium on April 20, 2008.
In July, 2008, Coughlin left the New York Post to become the Director of Photography for former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies all-star Lenny Dykstra's financial magazine for professional athletes, The Players Club. Coughlin left The Players Club after only 67 days, citing Dykstra's unusual and abusive idiosyncrasies. Coughlin documented his experience in an article for the April, 2009 issue of GQ magazine titled You Think Your Job Sucks? Try Working For Lenny Dykstra In 2009, Coughlin appeared as a guest on the HBO program Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, following up on Lenny Dysktra's questionable business practices.
Coughlin returned to working for newspapers as a contract photographer again for Newsday, and later as a senior photo editor with the New York Daily News. In 2009, he established an aerial cinematography business called All Island Aerial. Kevin P. Coughlin is considered a prominent authority on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for aerial photography. He has been the executive photographer in the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo since 2014 and the Chief sUAS Pilot for the State of New York since 2015.