Interview: Darius Shepard, founder of Rue des Archives, the premier French archival photo library

 

Darius Shepard, founder of Rue des Archives. With parrot.
Darius Shepard, founder of Rue des Archives. With parrot.

 

Darius Shepard heads up Rue des Archives, a leading library in the French market, recently aquired by Bridgeman. Who better to explain what makes this collection so special. 

How would you define the collection in one sentence?

Very French and somewhat sexy in it's use of candid photography. 

What are the origins of the archive? 

At the core of the archive is a collection of content from the AGIP picture agency, founded in 1936 and containing over 3,000,000 images, covering France’s newsworthy events, artists, writers and stars.  The origins of AGIP is the diaspora in the 30s of Hungarian Jews looking for work in Europe. Three major French agencies started this way.

Origins for us - 1990, looking to expand on the budding stock shot (moving images) market. With the purchase finalized in 1992, we dusted it off and began pushing glamour shots in the renewed B/W photography market. Magazines were starting to run centre 'vintage' features.

 

Charles De Gaulle in Bruneval, Northern France. 30 March 1947/ Photo © AGIP / Bridgeman Images
Charles De Gaulle in Bruneval, Northern France. 30 March 1947/ Photo © AGIP / Bridgeman Images

 

 

Gina Lollobrigida at The Artists' Union Gala in France March 09, 1958 in Paris  / Photo © AGIP / Bridgeman Images
Gina Lollobrigida at The Artists' Union Gala in France March 09, 1958 in Paris / Photo © AGIP / Bridgeman Images

 

What sets it apart from other collections?

What sets it apart is the choice of images from among 3 000 000 negatives. It was always content driven and images were reproduced according to market demand. This was done before wholesale scanning began, something which gave an added value to the selection.

 Do you have a favourite image? 

Favourite image - not one, but the style of the image, Gina Lollobrigida in 1958. She is available for the camera and excited about life. This attitude pervades the 1950s pictures.

Tell us about the most licensed image

Best seller - our WW2 liberation of Paris shot. Over the years with the diverse celebrations, we have been contacted by the girls in the shot and put them back in touch with each other. The soldiers sister even came in - he died shortly after Paris when liberating Strasbourg. He's French, by the way - in the Leclerc division and wearing GI gear from England (part of the initial forces sent to Normandy). One of the girls was invited by the major French TV station to tour the spot and give her impressions - 70 years later!

 

Liberation of Paris, August 1944 Photo © AGIP / Bridgeman Images
Liberation of Paris, August 1944 Photo © AGIP / Bridgeman Images

 

Find out More

Over 80,000 images from the RDA collection are now available to view and download on the Bridgeman website, with many more images going online in the next few months. If you are interesting in sourcing photography relating to 20th century French culture, celebrity and history, we should be able to access it for you.

For licensing, copyright and research enquiries please contact uksales@bridgemanimages.com

Read more out the RDA collection 


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