Minkkinen was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1945 and emigrated to the United States in 1951. He graduated from Wagner College with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and began making self-portraits in 1971 while working as a copywriter in advertising on Madison Avenue in New York city. He later studied under Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind at the Rhode island school of design and received a master of fine arts degree in photography in 1974.
Minkkinen was awarded the order of the Finnish lion first class by the Finnish government in 1992, and received the Finnish State art prize in photography in 2006.
For the past forty years, Minkkinen has been engaged in teaching, curating, and writing, while continuing to devote his photographic powers exclusively to creating self-portraits. Organically entering the space, whether it is an urban or natural landscape, he creates works that at first glance may seem like installation or computer fiction. His interaction with nature is akin to mimicry – Minkkinen becomes a natural element of the environment, merges with it, continuing and completing perspectives and lines. Finland, Norway and Sweden, France, Italy, China and the American West are his favourite places to “hunt” for shots.
Minkkinen is a Professor of Art at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and also teaches at the Aalto University of art and design in Helsinki. Earlier in his teaching career he worked as an assistant Professor at MIT, visiting artist at Philadelphia College of art (now University of the Arts (Philadelphia)), the École d’arts Appliqués in Vevey, Switzerland, and as a lecturer in the Media College of Maine in Rockport, Maine.