Gordon Ward Gahan Collection

Minneapolis Bureau, 1965–67

Minneapolis Bureau, 1965–67

Gahan was transferred from the New York bureau to Minneapolis in November of 1965. In recognition of his consistently strong work, he was named head of news pictures in Minneapolis, making him the youngest bureau chief in company history. Even in his new role, Gahan continued to produce compelling, high-quality photographs that consistently found their way onto the pages of newspapers across the country. Gahan replicated his earlier success with athletes and sports photography in pictures of baseball players like Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Mantle, Ed Brinkman, and Cesar Tovar. He also continued to produce entertaining photo sets of local interest, such as the series documenting the opening of Jay’s Drive-Thru in Brookdale, Minnesota, heralded as the first fully automated restaurant. These works convey an interest in experimentation with framing, angles, and lenses, which Gahan had previously exploited to acclaim on assignments for the New York bureau. Such manipulation would prove to be a hallmark of Gahan’s style, reappearing in his work for the army in Vietnam.

In April and May of 1967, Gahan traveled to Portugal to complete one of his last assignments for UPI. He spent time in Lisbon to photograph a bullfight for the photo set Les Pegas before traveling to the coastal fishing village of Nazaré.

In the photographs of Nazaré, Gahan’s innovative work with camera angles and composition continues to shine through, as does his characteristic sensitivity to the people and subjects he set out to capture. Part traditional enclave, part tourist destination, Nazaré preserved its ancient heritage and ways of life through much of the twentieth century. The men still fished in bright wooden boats, and the women dressed in wooden clogs, black headscarves, and the skirts with seven petticoats for which Nazaré is known. Gahan’s photographs capture the village and its inhabitants from every vantage point, from far away and up close, at work and at play. While technically high in quality, they also reveal the photographer’s comfort with his subjects and an intimacy that is respectful and noninvasive—characteristics for which Gahan would be lauded throughout his career.