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Saturday, March 5, 2016


Acclaimed Irish photographer John Minihan snapped this remarkable black and white photo of Nobelist author/playwright Samuel Beckett at a Paris bistro along Boulevard St. Jacques in Montparnasse, 1985.

Minihan describes the story behind the image:

In Paris, in December, 1985, Minihan gently pushed to do a picture, and Beckett relented. On a Sunday, he arrived at the cafe at two o'clock and took a table by the window, to give him the light he needed.

"He walked in on the stroke of three and when he saw me smiled: he knew exactly why I was sitting in that spot,"' says Minihan. "We had a few coffees and talked, and as the time went by I could see the daylight beginning to go. It wasn't until ten to five that Sam said to me, 'Would you like to take a photograph here?' Another five minutes and the opportunity would have been lost. Sam knew it and was tantalising me.

"I took the Hasselblad out. I had framed the picture in my head; I knew exactly what I wanted. But Samuel Beckett orchestrated that picture. As I focused the lens, Sam moved to stub out his cheroot. His demeanour changed immediately. It was as if I had ceased to exist. He moved his left hand down onto his knee and turned his gaze away."

Minihan took another few shots outside on the boulevard. The entire shoot comprised just six frames. "Sam just said, God bless, shook my hand and departed. I stood there overjoyed. I didn't know what I had got, but I knew it was good. When I got it developed, it was better than I had expected.''


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