I am of the period when Lady Diana Spencer became promised to Prince Charles. One finds it hard to imagine in this world of over saturation and the Kardashians, how extraordinary was their romance – tainted now by history. In that time people clamored for images. There weren’t the trash trades available such as they are today – and really no paparazzi to speak of. No doubt such trade began as a result of Diana’s popularity. She influenced the scene the moment she arrived. I recall the first photograph of her as a nursery school teacher. It was quite controversial – she in her diaphanous skirt – innocently holding her charges. One could only imagine a scoundrel to take such a photo. John Minihan is just that scoundrel . A lovely one at that! Meeting him was the highlight of the Oscar weekend. With a twinkle in his eye, two cameras slung about his neck and a glass of red wine he regaled us with stories. Stories full of passionate love for his craft, his country and his subjects.
For all our discussions I was most impressed by two things.
The first, his love for the enduring permanence of film. John believes the art lies in the moment the image is captured forever on film. Much of his work in his hometown and of the daily life of his village of Athy was archival. As a result, you will find him with two camera’s wrapped around his neck or over his shoulder – each ready to shoot 12 exposures. You can imagine the precision one must have to shoot a limitation. A good part of our chat was about film, where to find it and with what to shoot. Fortunately for me, I got an inside tip on a great space in Austria, and will take his advice and begin dabbling in film with the help of my mentor, Peter Poulides.
And secondly, that the National Gallery of Ireland doesn’t recognize fine art photography among its collections. A pity for someone who has so carefully documented Ireland from the early 60’s and is so closely tied to the great writers of the time. His documentation of Samuel Beckett among them. To listen to him speak of those whom inspired him is charming. He is passionate for both image and for words, with a deep love for poetry.
Not only was I inspired by this lovely chap with a newsboy cap, velvet coat and colorful tie, but I got a lesson or two in photography and the art of a great story.