Sir Don McCullin, a British photojournalist and one of the most renowned photographers of the 20th century, has left an indelible mark on the world of photojournalism. His powerful and evocative images have provided a window into the human condition during times of conflict and social upheaval. McCullin’s unwavering commitment to bearing witness to the realities of war and suffering has made him an iconic figure in the field of photography.

Born in London on October 9, 1935, McCullin faced a challenging upbringing in a working-class neighborhood. He discovered his passion for photography during his teenage years, capturing images of his surroundings. His talent was soon recognized, and he secured a position as a darkroom assistant for The Observer newspaper. This opportunity marked the beginning of a remarkable career that would span several decades.

Pioneering Photojournalism

McCullin’s career took off when he began working as a freelance photographer, covering conflicts and social issues around the globe. He fearlessly ventured into war zones, capturing hauntingly raw and emotive images that exposed the human cost of conflict. From the Vietnam War to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, McCullin’s photographs provided a harrowing glimpse into the realities faced by both soldiers and civilians, ensuring that their stories would not be forgotten.

Impactful Photography

McCullin’s photographic style was characterized by its visceral and intense nature. His images often portrayed the stark realities of war, poverty, and human suffering. The haunting gaze of his subjects, the play of light and shadow, and the composition of his photographs spoke volumes about the human condition. McCullin’s work went beyond mere documentation; it aimed to evoke empathy, compassion, and a call for change. His photographs were a testament to the power of visual storytelling and had a profound impact on viewers worldwide.

Throughout his illustrious career, McCullin received numerous accolades for his contributions to photojournalism. He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1993 and was knighted in 2017. McCullin’s photographs have been exhibited in prestigious galleries and museums worldwide, cementing his status as one of the greatest photojournalists of our time. His legacy continues to inspire new generations of photographers and serves as a reminder of the importance of using the lens to shed light on the darkest corners of our world.

Don McCullin has been filmed discussing his photography many times during his long career, but rarely has he been shown shooting in the field. So when plans were mooted for making a documentary showing him in action, with the world’s most renowned photojournalist keen on the concept, they knew they had a rare opportunity that would make the photographic world sit up and take note. Film director Clive Booth, cinematographer Chris Clarke and Sir Don McCullin’s manager, Mark George, tell the behind-the-scenes story of how they made the documentary film, ‘McCullin in Kolkata’.

If you’d like to learn more about storytelling in photography or photojournalism, check out the Steve McCurry masterclass or the Nick Danziger masterclass.


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