Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Don McCullin Retrospective

There is a retrospective of Don McCullin’s work at the Tate starting tomorrow. It will be one of the great exhibitions this year and I would recommend you find the time to go. It will be tough, his war photography is uncompromising but he is a man of genuine compassion. As he said in a recent Guardian article while in conversation with Giles Duley…DMcC It’s about the emotional – we’re not just photographers, we gather emotionally. A camera doesn’t mean a toss to me. I just put it in front of me and transfer the image through that piece of glass and that film. But I’m using my emotion more than I’m using that piece of equipment. And at the same time there’s a thousand thoughts going through my brain saying: “Is it right do this?” I’ve seen men executed and I haven’t photographed it and I thought my God, if my editor knew that I hadn’t pressed this button he’d give me the boot. But it’s my moral duty not to take that picture because the man who’s about to be killed hasn’t given me his permission…….When a man is standing in front of you about to die, you can’t help him. He’s crying and he’s looking at you. He’s looking up to where he thinks God is and he’s scrambling around like mad to this last chance to keep alive and you’re standing there, you can’t help him. You are ashamed of humanity.

It is a dangerous mistress, and it’s one of those love affairs that never ends, you know. It just never ends. You’re totally captive to photography once it gets a grip of you.

There is a review of the exhibition here

x78Screenshot 2019-02-06 at 15.05.57Catholic Youths Attacking British Soldiers in the Bogside of Londonderry 1971, printed 2013 by Don McCullin born 1935Cyprus 1964, printed 2013 by Don McCullin born 1935

Shell-shocked US Marine, The Battle of Hue 1968, printed 2013 by Don McCullin born 1935

All images Don McCullin as seen at Tate Retrospective

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