"Shake a tree and 40 poets fall out," says photographer John Minihan of his native Ireland.
"Yet we're not so known for our visual culture."
To right the wrong, John, who has catalogued lives from Francis Bacon to Princess Diana, will be revealing some of his most prized images at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.
The theme is Irish writers, and John has captured the best of a generation.
"I want to find the hidden character," John says of his technique.
Befriending subjects and earning their trust is imperative. Recalling his first encounter with Samuel Beckett in 1980, he says: "Sam had a play on at the Riverside at the time and he invited me up to his room - room 604 - at the Hyde Park Hotel.
"He scanned my photos which were strewn around on his bed for 15 or 20 minutes."
It was examining John's series of photos entitled The Last Wake, which illustrated the three-day burial of Katie Tyrrell in Athy, County Kildare, that their friendship was kindled.
"You don't just photograph Sam, you have to offer him something," John says.
"From then on he made me feel at ease, we saw each other frequently."
The resulting images, including intimate viewpoints from their meeting in Paris, 1985, are all on display, as well as projects with Seamus Heaney and Derek Mahon.
"Think of James Joyce," John says. "It's the image that pops into your head."
Where good literature walks, good photography is sure to follow.
Irish Writers, photographs by John Minihan is at the Riverside Studios, Crisp Road, Hammersmith from Monday, June 16, until Monday, July 7. Free. 10am-10.30pm.
Call 020 8237 1111. See www.riversidestudios.co.uk