Hidden Treasure: The American Photography Archive Group

Attendees at the annual APAG seminar held at the International Center for Photography, September 18-19, 2015
Attendees at the annual APAG seminar held at the International Center for Photography, September 18-19, 2015

APAG President Mary Engel with Mark Lubell, the Executive Director of ICP
APAG President Mary Engel with Mark Lubell, the Executive Director of ICP, © Grayson Dantzic
If you’re a photographer or someone managing an archive, and you don’t already know about The American Photography Archive Group (APAG), you should run to the website to check it out! Then you should become a member! It has been a crucial resource for me as I’ve gone about learning the ins and outs of being a steward of Harold’s archive now and in the future. In addition to providing a network of similarly-situated others who’ve been grappling with all the same questions, APAG meetings — and particularly the annual two-day seminar — provide a wealth of valuable information on everything from copyright to preservation. This has made the task of navigating the legal, financial and organizational complexities of managing an archive, or simply promoting and marketing the artist, far more manageable. A list of the various panels from this year’s seminar give you the flavor of the offerings:

  • Licensing, rights and stock houses: What choices are out there?
  • Creating a value and appraising an archive: Everything you need to know.
  • The Evolution of Photo Books and Exhibitions: Where things are at today.
  • How to work with institutions and museums for donations and acquisitions: A discussion with three curators.
  • Looking at your archive from another perspective: Three archivists talk about a different approach.
  • Social media, web sites and the internet: How to promote your archive.
One of my favorite offerings at this year's seminar was this presentation by Nils Morgan about how he and other family members placed the archives of his parents -- Barbara and Willard Morgan -- at the Charles E. Young Research Library at UCLA.  See below for a link to the great video recounting that journey!  © Mary Engel
One of my favorite offerings at this year’s seminar was this video presentation by Nils Morgan about how he and other family members placed the archives of his parents — Barbara and Willard Morgan — at the Charles E. Young Research Library at UCLA. © Mary Engel

Phil Block, Director of the ICP School with writer and photo-historian, A.D. Coleman
Phil Block, Director of the ICP School with writer and photo-historian, A.D. Coleman, ©Grayson Dantzic
I first heard about APAG from my dear friends Barbara and Gene Bullock-Wilson. Barbara has been managing the legacy of her well-known father, Wynn Bullock, and lesser known mother, Edna Bullock, for decades. And, even though the majority of the Wynn Bullock’s archive is already placed at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, (Wynn was one of the five founders of CCP), the work of carrying on the promotion of her parents’ legacy and the placement and preservation of the remaining works in her private collection have been a close to full-time job for Barbara and Gene. When we had them for dinner about five years ago, Barbara urged me to check out APAG, and at that point I began attending what meetings I could in New York. In addition to the annual seminar, meetings are held three times a year at the ICP school.

Thanks to Julie Grahame, creator of the great website aCurator,  for using the Harold Feinstein website as an example of a great website!  An unexpected kudo!  ©Harris Fogel
Thanks to Julie Grahame, creator of the great website aCurator, for using the Harold Feinstein website as an example of a great website! An unexpected kudo! ©Harris Fogel

APAG grew from an organic need. Founder and president, Mary Engel, assumed responsibility for the archive of her mother, photographer and filmmaker Ruth Orkin, when Ms. Orkin passed away in 1985, and she found herself thrust into the world of intellectual property rights, conservation and preservation, promotion, photography galleries and dealers. Later she would also inherit the archive of her father, Morris Engel, as well. Over time she began to meet with others who were in the same boat and eventually a small group of people came together informally, first over a meal at a restaurant and eventually packing a large room at ICP. Mary’s leadership eventually led to APAG’s incorporation as a 501c3 with an Advisory Board that includes Howard Greenberg of the Howard Greenberg Gallery, Mark Lubell, Executive Director of ICP and Katherine Martinez, the Director of the Center for Creative Photography. With so many creative resources as its disposal, membership in APAG is worth the price of admission many times over.

It was fun to meet a few of Harold's former students at the seminar.  <a href=
Beryl Goldberg student with Harold in the 80's and Laurence Salzmann who studied with him in 1965 in Philadelphia!” width=”614″ height=”337″ class=”size-large wp-image-6262″ /> It was fun to meet a few of Harold’s former students at the seminar. Beryl Goldberg student with Harold in the 80’s and Laurence Salzmann who studied with him in 1965 in Philadelphia!

In addition to meetings, APAG hosts Google groups on special topics of interest to members as well as occasional conference calls. In addition, each member is given a bio and photo gallery page on the website, and news on exhibitions, books and other events is also posted. The meeting agenda are built around the interests of members and Mary herself, to the extent possible, tries to help individual members with key concerns and questions along the way. We wish we could clone her, and the other members of her leadership team Grayson Dantzic and Julie Grahame for all the time and energy they put in to creating such special meetings and yearly seminars!

The next meeting is November 11th at ICP. Contact the APAG website for more information and to become a member! I know I join other members in thanking Mary and her team for the valuable opportunity to learn from each other and the informative guests who join us at the meetings!

Julie Grahame with Bob Ahern, Director of Archive Photography at Getty,  © Harris Fogel
Julie Grahame with Bob Ahern, Director of Archive Photography at Getty Images © Harris Fogel
George Miles from Yale's Beineke Library,  Jennifer Watts from The Huntington and Lisa McCarty from Duke's Center for Documentary Studies all shared on a panel about acquisition and placement of archives.  © Harris Fogel
George Miles, curator for the Western Americana Collection from Yale’s Beinecke Library, Jennifer Watts, curator of photographs at The Huntington and Lisa McCarty, curator of archives of documentary art at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies all shared on a panel about acquisition and placement of archives. © Harris Fogel

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