Don McCullin

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Don McCullin CBE
Don McCullin.jpg
Born Donald McCullin
(1935-10-09) 9 October 1935 (age 78)
Finsbury Park, London, England, UK
Occupation Photojournalist
Years active 1959–present

Donald McCullin, CBE Hon FRPS (born 9 October 1935, Finsbury Park, London, England) is an internationally known British photojournalist, particularly recognized for his war photography and images of urban strife. His career, which began in 1959, has specialised in examining the underside of society, and his photographs have depicted the unemployed, downtrodden and the impoverished.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

McCullin grew up in Finsbury Park, North London but he was evacuated to a farm in Somerset during The Blitz.[1] He is dyslexic[2][3] but he displayed a talent for drawing at the Secondary Modern School he attended. He won a scholarship to Hammersmith School of Arts and Crafts,[3] but left school at the age of 15 without qualifications for a catering job on the railways following the death of his father.[2][3] He was then called up for National Service in the Royal Air Force.

Career[edit]

McCullin's period of National Service in the RAF saw him posted to the Canal Zone during the 1956 Suez Crisis, where he worked as a photographer's assistant. He failed to pass the written theory paper necessary to become a photographer in the RAF, and so spent his service in the darkroom.[4][5] During this period McCullin bought his first camera, a Rolleicord. On return to Britain shortage of funds led to him pawning the camera. His mother used her own money to redeem the pledge.[6]

In 1959, a photograph he took of a local London gang was published in The Observer.[7] Between 1966 and 1984, he worked as an overseas correspondent for the Sunday Times Magazine, recording ecological and man-made catastrophes such as war-zones, amongst them Biafra, in 1968 and victims of the African AIDS epidemic.[5] His hard-hitting coverage of the Vietnam War and the Northern Ireland conflict is particularly highly regarded.

He also took the photographs of Maryon Park in London which were used in Michelangelo Antonioni's film Blowup.[8]

In 1968, his Nikon camera stopped a bullet intended for him.[9]

In 1982 the British Government refused to grant McCullin a press pass to cover the Falklands War.[10][11][12] At the time he believed it was because the Thatcher government felt his images might be too disturbing politically. It later emerged that he was a victim of bureaucracy: he had been turned away simply because the Royal Navy had used up its quota of press passes.[13]

He is the author of a number of books, including The Palestinians (with Jonathan Dimbleby, 1980), Beirut: A City in Crisis (1983), and Don McCullin in Africa (2005). His book, Shaped by War (2010), was published to accompany a major retrospective exhibition at the Imperial War Museum North, Salford, England in 2010 and then at the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath and the Imperial War Museum, London. His most recent publication is Southern Frontiers: A Journey Across the Roman Empire, a poetic and contemplative study of selected Roman and pre-Roman ruins in North Africa and the Middle East.

In later years, McCullin has turned to landscape and still-life works and taking commissioned portraits.

In 2012 a documentary film of his life, McCullin directed by David Morris and Jacqui Morris was released. The film was nominated for two BAFTA awards.

Family life[edit]

Currently living in Somerset, he is married and has five children from his current and earlier marriages.[5]

Selected works[edit]

Émile Béchard, Femme du Luxor. Don McCullin made a personal selection of photographs from the National Media Museum's collection, revealing how these sites were recorded by earlier photographers such as Francis Frith and Maxime Du Camp. Don McCullin: "Today, if you try to photograph women in the middle east it's very difficult. There must have been much more relaxed attitudes in those days to photographing women from Islamic backgrounds. You certainly wouldn't be allowed to get away with it today or have the cooperation. There's a very nice innocence about this picture, an honesty. I could look at these portraits endlessly, they're so beautiful."

Selected awards[edit]

McCullin receiving the World Press Photo Award in 1964

Quotes[edit]

  • "I grew up in total ignorance, poverty and bigotry, and this has been a burden for me throughout my life. There is still some poison that won't go away, as much as I try to drive it out."[citation needed]
  • "I am a professed atheist, until I find myself in serious circumstances. Then I quickly fall on my knees, in my mind if not literally, and I say : 'Please God, save me from this.'"[citation needed]
  • "I have been manipulated, and I have in turn manipulated others, by recording their response to suffering and misery. So there is guilt in every direction: guilt because I don't practice religion, guilt because I was able to walk away, while this man was dying of starvation or being murdered by another man with a gun. And I am tired of guilt, tired of saying to myself: "I didn't kill that man on that photograph, I didn't starve that child." That's why I want to photograph landscapes and flowers. I am sentencing myself to peace."[21]
  • "Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures."[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Don McCullin at SundaySalon. Retrieved 22 March 2014
  2. ^ a b Don McCullin interview in The Guardian 22 December 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2014
  3. ^ a b c ftweekend Don Mcullin interview Retrieved 22 March 2014
  4. ^ Leo Benedictus "Don McCullin's best shot", The Guardian (London), 29 March 2007. A shortened version of this interview, omitting this material, appears here.
  5. ^ a b c Edemariam, Aida (2005-08-25). "The human factor (interview)". The Observer. 
  6. ^ {{cite book I last = McCullin I first = Donald I coauthors = Lewis Chester I title = Unreasonable Behaviour, An Autobiography I publisher=Vintage Books I year=2002 I isbn = 978-0-09-943776-5 I pages = 28-29}}
  7. ^ Peres, Michael R.; Osterman, Mark; Romer, Grant B.; Lopez, J. Tomas (2008). The Concise Focal Encyclopedia of Photography. Focal Press. ISBN 0-240-80998-X. 
  8. ^ Philippe Garner, David Alan Miller, Blow Up (Steidl, 2011).
  9. ^ McCullin, Donald; Lewis Chester (2002). Unreasonable Behaviour, An Autobiography. Vintage Books. pp. 137–138. ISBN 978-0-09-943776-5. 
  10. ^ Morris, Roderick (1997-10-30). "Don McCullin's Harrowing Images of War". International Herald Tribune. 
  11. ^ "Don McCullin". Exploring Photography (Victoria and Albert Museum). Retrieved 2007-03-31. 
  12. ^ Das, P (January 2005), "Life interrupted—a photographic exhibition of HIV/AIDS in Africa by Don McCullin", The Lancet Infectious Diseases 5 (1): 15, doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(04)01248-4, ISSN 1473-3099, PMID 15620555 
  13. ^ Shaped by war: Don McCullin in Profile British Journal of Photography 3 Mar 2010
  14. ^ "Don McCullin biography". Under Fire: Images from Vietnam. Piece Unique Gallery. Retrieved 2007-03-30. 
  15. ^ Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Award Accessed 13 August 2012
  16. ^ "Cornell Capa Award". Retrieved 2007-03-31. 
  17. ^ Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Award
  18. ^ "Honorary Awards Announced". University of Gloucestershire. 3 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-10. [dead link]
  19. ^ "Annual Report 2012 (p11)". Creative Space. Hereford College of Arts. Retrieved December 7, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Honorary graduates", University of Bath. Accessed 14 January 2012. (A list of honorary graduates of 2011.)
  21. ^ "Entre Vues : Frank Horvat - Don McCullin (London, August 1987)". Frank Horvat Photography. Retrieved September 2, 2013. 
  22. ^ "BBC Radio 3 - Transcript of the John Tusa Interview with Don McCullin". Retrieved November 25, 2013. 

External links[edit]