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Joe C. Aker Architecture Photographic Records

Identifier: 2014-012

The Joe C. Aker Architecture Photographic Records consist of the photographic archives of Joe C. Aker, a noted professional photographer who specializes in the photography of architecture and interiors. The records include film negatives, transparencies, and prints, although projects after the year 2000 are primarily in digital format. In addition, the records include published materials such as books, magazines, and leasing brochures in which his work appeared. Materials are arranged according to Aker’s filing system, which organizes jobs in chronological order and by project number. The records document projects from the years 1980 through 2008, but some project files from the early 1980s are missing and presumed lost. The collection occupies 229 linear feet of shelf space and is stored in 234 regular and over-sized boxes and 5 file cabinet drawers. The photographs in the collection are historically significant because they document the built environment of Houston and other major cities during the last quarter of the twentieth century, a period of economic growth when the urban landscape changed frequently. Aker photographed not only the completed buildings but also worked closely with architecture firms to record the design process in sketches, studies, and models. Moreover, long before the advent of computer design and rendering technology, he perfected the art of using architectural models to create realistic presentation photographs of buildings before they were constructed. In the 1980s Aker was a principal photographer for Texas Commerce Bank and its parent company, Texas Commerce Bancshares. During this period Texas Commerce Bank was one of the largest banks in Texas. It later merged with New York’s Chemical Bank before becoming part of J. P. Morgan Chase. His files include portrait photographs of officers and directors and other images used for publicity and annual reports. These images are housed separately from his other projects.


  • 1980-2006

Conditions Governing Access

Open for Research.

Conditions Governing Use

Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish from copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian. Reproduction decisions will be made by Special Collections staff on a case-by-case basis.


229 linear feet


The Joe C. Aker Architecture Photographic Records consist of the photographic archives of Joe C. Aker, a noted professional photographer who specializes in the photography of architecture and interiors. The records include film negatives, transparencies, and prints.

Biographical Information

Joe Aker is a professional photographer and artist based in Houston. He grew up in Oklahoma City and was educated at Central State University in Edmond, Oklahoma, where he received a degree in Marketing and Economics. He then continued his professional training, earning a degree in photography from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.

He has been a leading architectural photographer since 1978 when he opened his own photography studio. His clients include important architects and real estate developers in the Southwest and across the United States. He has won awards for his work, which has been published in numerous books and major architectural magazines. For many years he also operated a large photographic processing and digital imaging lab in Houston, which served the needs of professional photographers and artists. Along with the lab, he managed Aker Imaging Gallery, which displayed fine art from a wide range of artists. From 1993 to 2011 Aker worked in partnership with Gary Zvonkovic, operating as Aker/Zvonkovic Photography and AZ Lab. Since then Aker has carried on a solo practice under the name Aker Imaging and Zvonkovic has operated as Zvonkovic Photography.

Aker’s practice includes fine art photography, which has been exhibited widely and is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. His work is part of a permanent installation at the Performing Arts Center at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. He also lectures on architectural photography. His fine art photography is not part of this archival collection.

[Source: Aker Imaging website at]

Acquisition Information

The Joe C. Aker Architecture Photographic Records were donated by Joe C. Aker in 2014. He donated additional records in 2017.

Guide to the Joe C. Aker Photographic Records
Stephen James
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections Repository

University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
MD Anderson Library
4333 University Drive
Houston TX 77204-2000 USA