Mary Engel, Archivist/Filmmaker

Mary Engel is an award winning filmmaker, director of the Orkin/Engel Film and Photo Archive, and founder of the American Photography Archives Group.

Photo by Rita Rivera

Mary Engel has been the director of the Ruth Orkin Photo Archive since its inception in 1985. She is responsible for all aspects of managing the archive including sales, licensing, marketing, legal issues, preservation and social media. Engel works with photography galleries, museums and auction houses in the United States and abroad. She has published four catalogs of photography. Mary recently wrote the introduction and served as co-editor on Ruth Orkin: A Photo Spirit, published in 2021. 

Engel’s first film “Ruth Orkin: Frames of Life” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1996, and went on to screen at many other festivals. The film was selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as one of the “Outstanding Documentaries of 1996.” Her film “Morris Engel: The Independent” premiered on Turner Classic Movies, TCM in 2009. Engel is also a contributing producer of “Ordinary Miracles: The Photo League’s New York” released in 2011.

In 2022, Engel lectured at the National Arts Club about her role as the director of the Orkin/Engel film and photo archive and founder of APAG. She also gave zoom presentations during the last year for her alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis and East Bay Photo Collective. 

She has recently participated on panels at POWarts and Photoville, and has lectured at Harvard University, New York University, Brooklyn Historical Society, St. Louis Art Museum, Central Park Conservancy, and has appeared at the Avon Theater, (Stamford, CT), Loews Jersey (Jersey City, NJ) Film Forum (New York, NY) and the Egyptian Theater (Park City, Utah). She has been published in The New York Times, the American Society of Media Photographers magazine, Photo District News and Film Comment.

Engel is the 2017 recepient of the Griffin Museum of Photography – Focus Spotlight Award. She also completed the 2017 Seminar on Strategy for Artist-Endowed Foundation Leaders presented by the Aspen Institute Artist-Endowed Foundations Initiative (AEFI). 

Mary and Paul Smith, 2022.