The Ruth Orkin Photo Archive is handled by the photographer’s daughter, Mary Engel since 1985.

Print categories:

There are several categories of Ruth Orkin’s photographs that are available. Vintage prints were printed around the time they were taken, and are mostly smaller, and are mounted flush on board. Modern signed prints were newer exhibition prints made in the 70’s and 80s that were for exhibition, and are generally 11 x 14 and 16 x 20’s. Posthumous prints are made from the original negative and have an embossed signature stamp on the front, and are titled and signed by Mary Engel who is the photographer’s daughter, and director of the Ruth Orkin Photo Archive.

Licensing Information:

Many of the photographs seen on this website, and many others are available for various types of licensing including, posters, notecards, calendars, books etc.

Morris Engel (1918 – 2005)

Morris Engel

Photographer and filmmaker Morris Engel, born in 1918 in Brooklyn, believes “that to be a good movie maker you should do still photography first. And… to be a good still photographer, you should do movies first.” He has done both, and very well.

After graduating from Lincoln High School, Engel worked as an office boy for $10 a week. He enrolled at the Photo League in 1935 after seeing a magazine ad offering a basic photography course for $6. He began taking classes there, and soon after was teaching and having shows and worked on the Harlem Document feature project with Aaron Siskind. He also worked on Paul Strand’s film classic “Native Land.”

He became a staff photographer for the newspaper PM and then joined the US Navy during World War ll. He was in the combat Unit #8 under Edward Steichen, and landed on Normandy Beach on D-Day. When he returned he became a freelance photographer for such publications as Ladies’ Home Journal, McCall’s and Fortune during the golden age of magazine photography, and did many stories for the “How America Lives” series.

In 1952, he made an award-winning feature film, “Little Fugitive” with his wife, Ruth Orkin, that went on to win the Silver Lion at Venice, and was nominated for an Academy Award. The pair also went on to make another feature, “Lovers and Lollipops.” In the 1970s and 80’s his focus went back to still photography, and he began shooting wide color panoramas on the streets of New York, as he had begun 60 years earlier.

MARY ENGEL: Photo Archivist / Filmmaker

Mary Engel, Morris Engel

Mary Engel is an award winning filmmaker and the archivist of the Orkin/Engel Film and Photo Archive. Her first film “Ruth Orkin: Frames of Life” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1996, and went on to many other film festivals including the Aspen, Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, London and the Nantucket Film Festival. The film was selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as one of the “Outstanding Documentaries of 1996.”

Engel is a co-producer on the remake of the classic feature film “Little Fugitive,” which premiered at the Seattle Film Festival in 2006. She was also a co-producer on a short documentary that traveled across the company with an exhibition titled “A World History of Women Photographers.”

She has been the director of the Ruth Orkin Photo Archive since its inception in 1985. Engel is responsible for sales, licensing, contractual negotiations, marketing, legal issues, promotion, publicity and also works with many photography galleries in the United States and Abroad. She has published three catalogs of photography: Ruth Orkin A Retrospective (1995), Morris Engel Early Work (1999) and Ruth Orkin Above and Beyond (1999). In 2006 She formed the Orkin/Engel Film and Photo Archive which now combines the work of both of her parents, Ruth Orkin and Morris Engel.

She also recently founded the American Photography Archive Group (APAG) which is comprised of over 30 photography archives that are handled by a family member.


The American Photography Archives Group was formed to help other photography archives that are left to a family member. The group includes the archives of many of the master photographers of the 20th Century including: Esther Bubley, Ted Croner, Jerry Dantzic, Ernst Haas, Milton H. Greene, Phillippe Halsman, Arthur Leipzig, Arthur Rothstein and others.