Ruth Orkin Photo Archive                                                  Mary and Ruth, NYC, 1971

Frequently Asked Questions:


For all inquiries regarding reproduction, licensing rights, exhibitions, print sales, and information about the archive, please contact Mary Engel, Director of the Ruth Orkin Photo Archive,

What are the goals of the Ruth Orkin Photo Archive?

The Ruth Orkin Photo Archive has been handled exclusively by her daughter, Mary Engel since Ruth’s death at the age of 63 in 1985. It then became the Orkin/Engel Film and Photo Archive, after her father Morris’ death in 2005. Mary’s mission is to keep the photos in the public eye so people can appreciate their lifetime of photography and film!  There are many photos that have not been seen that Mary is discovering, and will continue to post on the websites, and on Facebook and Instagram.

What are the plans for Ruth’s Centennial in 2021? 

Mary is planning many events for Ruth Orkin’s centennial in 2021. Hopefully, there will be a major touring exhibition that will travel to museums  across the United States, and a new retrospective book. Her last monograph was published in 1981, “A Photo Journal.”

How do I get permission to reproduce Ruth Orkin photographs in a book, blog, newspaper, magazine or catalog? 

Mary Engel owns the copyright to all Ruth Orkin photographs.  Any request must be put in writing and approved by Mary Engel.  Title of photograph and copyright Ruth Orkin must accompany all usage. 

Do you loan photographs for museum or gallery exhibitions?

Yes, but please provide the archive with the answers to the questions below.


What is the photo or photos you would like to include?
What is the title of the exhibition?
How many other photographers will be included?
Do you need to borrow the photo, or is it already in the museum’s collection?
What is the location of the museum?
What is the length of the exhibition?
Are there additional locations?
Will there be an exhibition catalog?
Do you want a license for educational usage on the museum’s website?
Is there any other usage requested?

What are the primary formats of Ruth Orkin’s photographs? 

There are several categories of Ruth Orkin’s photographs available, please see below for the descriptions of each type. If you have a question about a photo you are considering purchasing, or a print you currently own, please take a photo of it and send to Mary Engel, and she will try to help identify it.
(All print sales are for display purposes only, all rights reserved.)

Signatures and Stamps:
Ruth Orkin’s vintage prints are marked in different ways, and it is not consistent.  Sometimes they are signed, titled and include an address stamp. Sometimes they only have a stamp, or are titled in Ruth’s hand, or don’t include any writing.  All vintage prints are authenticated by Mary Engel. There is also a lifetime stamp for unmarked photos that are in the archive collection.

Vintage prints were printed around the time they were taken, and are mostly smaller, and mounted flush on board. Generally they are 8 x 10, or 11 x 14.

Modern signed lifetime prints are newer silver gelatin exhibition prints made in the 70’s and 80s that were for exhibition, and are generally 11 x 14 and 16 x 20’s. These are all signed.

Posthumous prints are silver gelatin prints made from the original negative. They include a blind embossed signature stamp on the front, and are titled and signed on the back by Mary Engel who is the photographer’s daughter, and director of the Ruth Orkin Photo Archive. These are not editioned.