June 08, 2012

Michael Coyne Exhibition Opens Sunday 10 June

Multi-award winning Australian photojournalist Michael Coyne has a new exhibition - "The X Factor" - which opens this Sunday, 10th June at Photonet Gallery in Fairfield (Melbourne).

"The X Factor" features new photographs shot on Fujifilm's X100 and X-Pro 1 cameras, which are gaining praise around the world for their high quality images and retro design.

Coyne, who I have interviewed several times in recent years, is best known for his landmark coverage of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s which culminated in the scoop of his career - in 1989 he was one of the last Western photographers to capture the Ayatollah Khomeini shortly before the Iranian cleric's death that year.

Of that image he says, “Every time I went to Iran I asked if I could photograph Khomeini. They never said no, but it never happened. And then one day I got a phone call and was told to come straight away to the Ministry for Islamic Guidance”.

At the Ministry they revealed Coyne was going to Khomeini’s house the next day. He was intrigued, but had no idea what he would be witness to. As instructed he left his camera gear and film with the Ministry and arrived at Khomeini’s house with only a handkerchief in his pocket. After passing through numerous security checkpoints including the obligatory body search, he was finally handed a box containing his “gear” and ushered into Khomeini’s private mosque.

“So I was standing there and all of these people were crowded around and it was very tight and hard to manouevre. The light was terrible and you can’t use flash, so I was pushing film as far as I could. I had two cameras one on wide angle and another with a long lens. Suddenly the door opened on this platform above me and Khomeini’s son stepped out, all these guards appeared and then Khomeini himself came through the door, a very old man. I used the camera with the wide angle lens and just went bang, bang, bang, and then he moved to a chair where I couldn’t quite see him. I saw a ladder and pushed past the guard, which is a really dangerous thing to do, and an Iranian photographer and myself leapt up to the TV platform. I shot a roll of film on a really slow shutter speed. I didn’t know if I’d gotten anything worthwhile and within minutes he had left. But the whole thing just worked,” he says still marveling at his luck.

Since that time Coyne has traversed the world photographing a wide range of subjects including social documentary projects. He's also published over a dozen books, completed a PhD and today runs workshops around the globe.

You can read my profile feature on Michael Coyne here

(C) Michael Coyne

Photonet Gallery
15a Railway Place, Fairfield www.photonetgallery.com.au