For many people, especially Irish American tourists, the name John Hinde instantly conjures up images of Ireland in its most quaint and organic form. Half a century after he captured the first photos of the Emerald Isle, their resonance bears testament to their brilliance.
A pioneering photographer of his era, Hinde’s images were a cacophony of color. He managed to document a rich period of Irish history through his carefully constructed settings.
But who was the man behind the camera, whose images of Ireland still permeate the world?
Born in Somerset, England in 1916, Hinde’s career in photography began during the Second World War when he worked as a civil defense photographer. His work was included in illustrated books such as 'Of Cabbages and Kings,' 'Citizens in War' and 'British Circus Life.'
He later became the publicity manager for a circus in 1944 and it was here he met his wife Jutta. With a passion for art and a flair for design, the couple would go on to document striking postcard scenes throughout the world.
In the mid 1950s, Hinde and Jutta relocated to Dublin and bought a house in Dalkey which would become known as “the studio.” Over the course of the next decade, the English man captured some of the most iconic images of Ireland.
During the summer of 1956, with Jutta’s help, Hinde photographed his first series of “Views of Ireland.” This collection would later become the first of millions of Irish postcards to be produced by Hinde that are sold to this day throughout Ireland.
Long before the days of Photoshop and airbrushing, Hinde mastered the art of capturing still shots of everyday life in Ireland. His previous work in printing allowed him to create high quality color saturation, which separated him from his competitors. He was also a master at choreographing his images.
Hinde worked with meticulous precision to create what would become symbolic snapshots of Ireland. From the conception of an image right through to the printing stages, he was involved in every step.
The Englishman spent the first years working from the family home in Dalkey, as his work quickly developed into a profitable company. In August 1962, the first sod was turned by the Hinde family’s eldest daughter Rosemarie on the eight- acre site of their new factory in Cabinteely, Co. Dublin.
As the business expanded, the demand on Hinde grew and it became necessary to employ staff photographers.
For the year ending September 1966, Hinde printed more than 32 million color post cards which were sold in several countries including the U.K., U.S., Bahamas, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Ireland.
Hinde’s offices in Dublin even included a final inspection department where specially trained staff manually examined every piece of print produced by the company.
The John Hinde collection includes images from countries such as Africa, Australia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada and Britain.
Hinde later sold his business and the brand John Hinde in 1972 to Waterford Glass. Now known as the Hinde Group, the company remains in Irish ownership, with operations in the U.S. and Britain.
During his retirement the famed photographer concentrated on landscape painting and his work was subsequently showcased at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin in the early nineties.
A father of five, Hinde died in Dordogne, France in 1998.
Here Cormac Leonard talks to TV3 about the iconic John Hinde postcards: