Arno Rafael Minkkinen was born in Helsinki, Finland in June of 1945 and emigrated to the United States in 1951. He was educated at Wagner College (BA in English, 1967). He studied photography at the New School For Social Research under George Tice, at the School of Visual Arts under Ralph Hattersley and at the Rhode Island School of Design (where he received a MFA in photography in 1974) under Aaron Siskind and Harry Callahan. Minkkinen has worked as a copywriter at various advertising agencies and as a lecturer and instructor of photography at MIT, the Institute of Industrial Design in Helsinki, and the Philadelphia College of Art.
Minkkinen is the recipient of numerous awards including, two Polaroid Studio Grants in 1984 and 1987, a New England Foundation for the Arts Fellowship/National Endowment for the Arts Regional Grant in 1991 and Rittari, First Class Lion of Knighthood bestowed by the Finnish Republic on the Sesquecentennial of Finnish Photography in 1992. Minkkinen currently resides in Andover, Massachusetts and is a Professor of Art at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.