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Dublin: 13°C Saturday 19 June 2021

Pics: These stunning images capture the beauty of Connemara and the Aran Islands

Walter Pfeiffer’s friend and publisher Vincent Murphy told us about the great photographer himself.

Lough Formoyle Source: Walter Pfeiffer

WALTER PFEIFFER WAS never more at home than when he was behind the camera.

p50  Lough Nafooey with Bencorragh mountain Source: Walter Pfeiffer

Born in Gerolstein in the Eifel region of western Germany, he first visited Ireland at the age of 20. Among the places he visited was the Aran Islands. He eventually settled in Wicklow, and so the west was a place he returned to many times to take photographs.

p40  Early morning at Lisdonagh Source: Walter Pfeiffer

Pfeiffer died unexpectedly in April of this year, and his friend Vincent Murphy spoke to us about Walter’s legacy. Murphy runs Artisan House alongside his wife Mary Ruddy, which published the book Connemara & Aran, from which all these photographs are taken. The book is nominated in the Irish Book Awards.

p35  Connemara pony at Finny Source: Walter Pfeiffer

The pair met due to Pfeiffer’s work in the advertising world – Pfeiffer did a lot of commercial work in both fashion and food photography, as well as taking landscapes for his personal work.

p30 Soft day at Kylemore Abbey Source: Walter Pfeiffer

“We were friends for about 20 years,” said Murphy. “We met at a commercial shoot in Dublin – I was an art director in an ad agency and we did some work together. And then we did a lot of work on food packaging designs – he was one of Ireland’s top food packaging photographers. I did a lot of work with him and we built up a good friendship. It took us 20 years to get to know each other really well.”

p25 Gorumna Island Source: Walter Pfeiffer

How would he describe Pfeiffer? “He was a very gentle man, very patient. He was very private in one respect. In his professional life he spent most of his time behind a camera lens in the studio.”

p20 Lough Bofin with Lackavrea mountain Source: Walter Pfeiffer

“Outside of that his passion was photography – landscape photography, so that’s when he let it rip. He was a family man: he loved his family, his dogs, his garden. He loved life with a passion.”

p159  A January dusk at Poll Gorm

Walter Pfeiffer was often out and about, when he wasn’t in studio. You can tell from these photographs just how much he enjoyed exploring, and seeing the varied parts of the beautiful Irish landscape.

p135 An Poll Dubh (The Black Hole) Source: Walter Pfeiffer

“What made him special is he had a wonderful eye, how he’d frame an image,” said Murphy. “And that was not only in landscape photography, when he was out in the open, but when he was framing a piece of chicken on a plate for the likes of Dunnes Stores.”

He described Pfeiffer as a perfectionist who was very precise with his work.

p129  t   Dun Chonchuir Source: Walter Pfeiffer

In 2005, Pfeiffer’s first book on Connemara and Aran was published. “It was always our intention that we would reprint this book,” said Murphy. But Walter Pfeiffer didn’t want it to be the exact same, and decided to do a whole new body of work.

p129  b  Dun Chonchuir Source: Walter Pfeiffer

There are only a few photographs in the book that feature blue skies, testament to how much Pfeiffer loved the west’s changing landscape. “He loved the light changing, every minute, every second he’d be down taking a shot in the hills. I’d be with him and say ‘Walter, my foot is caught in a bog and he go ‘I’ve got a picture over here’,” laughed Murphy.

p96 In their winter coats with the Derryclare and Ben Corr mountain behind them Source: Walter Pfeiffer

Murphy, a Corkonian, can even thank Pfeiffer for helping him find love – he met his wife at the launch of the first Connemara & Aran book in 2005.

Connemara and Aran by Walter Pfeiffer, published by Artisan House, is out now. It is nominated in the Irish Book Awards in the TheJournal.ie Best Irish Published Book of the Year category. The Irish Book Awards takes place on Tuesday 28 November.

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