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From the Archives

These unpublished photos show familiar Irish faces like you've never seen them before

Photographer Conor Horgan has gone through his work to pick out the great photos that never saw the light.

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PHOTOGRAPHER CONOR HORGAN has taken thousands of photographs over the years.

As one of Ireland’s most sought-after fashion and portrait photographers, he has amassed quite an archive of incredible photos of familiar faces.

But not all of them made it to publication – for a variety of reasons (including the fact that one magazine shut down before his commission got to be included).

Now he has looked through his archives to find the photos that never made it, from beautiful landscapes to Morrissey and Mary Robinson, and they’re on show at the Little Museum of Dublin until January 4, 2015.

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The exhibition was something Horgan and Trevor White (of the Little Museum of Dublin) had been talking about for while.

The photographer wanted to avoid the “dreaded R-word”, given the connotations to him of a ‘retrospective’, but could still see the value in having his photos included in the museum.

“When I started looking back through the files, I was quite chuffed by how well a lot of the old material stood up,” recalls Horgan. Some of them were clearly of their time, while others had a “more playful quality to them than maybe I was looking for when I took them”.

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“We are always looking for hidden history and aspects of Dublin that have not yet been seen”, says Little Museum curator Simon O’Connor. “This exhibition of Conor’s photography is a rare glimpse of some of his own favourite images, people and places.”

Seasons change

It was also a chance to reassess Horgan’s work, and assess how his career had evolved.

“When I was a hot snot fashion and portrait photographer in my 20s and 30s, I have to be frank and say a lot of the time I was picking pics so maybe people might think I was cool or people I admire [would be impressed],” says Horgan.

But today, the more pictures he takes, the more he responds to the ones that make him “feel something”.

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He is glad to see that others feel an emotional connection to the same photographs. “You never really know how they’ll affect other people,” he explains.

In his more recent photos, he sees himself having “developed some way of connecting with people in pictures more than I ever could before, and that comes out in them”. And, says Horgan, “people can sense that”.

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In addition, some of the pictures have more depth or a bit more feeling to them than he says he felt at the time. He really enjoys the “slightly messy shots” in particular. If you want a perfect photo, pick up a glossy magazine, he advises jokingly.

“If you’ve made a film or creative effort, you don’t ever really see it yourself with the right perspective until it goes up on a wall,” says Horgan. “Until other people can see it. It’s not necessarily what other people would say to you… you get a bit of perspective and you can see the work with a bit of distance.”

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It’s a nervous time, too, but one that brings its rewards. Seeing his work through other people’s eyes has left Horgan feeling “very happy”.

Now a director as well as a photographer, he’s using his skills in new ways. “It’s hard to draw a line between them - in some ways they’re part of the same process,” he says.

Film is “all about story” and however that story has unfolded or portrayed, while he thinks “a good photograph has got some sense of story about it”.

It’s all about the way you look at things.

All photos Conor Horgan. Dublin Unpublished – Photographs by Conor Horgan runs at the Little Museum of Dublin until Jan 4 2015.

Read: Check out these beautiful photos of Irish families enjoying our heritage>

Read: 14 never-before-seen photos from the world’s best photographers>

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