Continuity of Purpose: A Photographic Legacy from Ruth Orkin to Her Daughter - Trust Me Shops
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Continuity of Purpose: A Photographic Legacy from Ruth Orkin to Her Daughter

Continuity of Purpose: A Photographic Legacy from Ruth Orkin to Her Daughter

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A photographer’s gift is to record his or her encounters with the world in pictures.

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A photographer’s gift is to record his or her encounters with the world in pictures. If that photographer meets with success, pictures from their archive are published in magazines and books, exhibited in museums and galleries, licensed for commercial use, and sold as prints. With careful planning, these images have a life that endures well beyond that of the artist, through the continuing efforts of a legacy keeper.
Such is the relationship between the trailblazing work of 20th-Century photographer Ruth Orkin and the ongoing endeavors of her daughter, Mary Engel, who inherited Orkin’s archive in 1985.
“It's a wonderful legacy, but a huge responsibility, and 35 years later that still rings true,” says Engel of her efforts. “My job, generally, is to keep the work out there, and that's why I do what I do.”
Photographs © Ruth Orkin Photo Archive
Enduring Mother-Daughter Bond 
Engel was only 23 when her mother died after a long battle with cancer. Although she was closely involved in various aspects of Orkin’s photo career throughout her formative years, Engel says, “Obviously I was in school most of the time, but I was always helping her to an extent with the photos, or with slides, or with invoices. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment, and she had a lot of her work in her room. So, it was right there. It was hard not to be part of it.” 

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