Donald McCullin(commonly known as Don McCullin) was born in London on October 9th, 1935 and after a secondary school education won a scholarship to Hammersmith School of Arts. During his National Service he became an assistant in aerial reconnaissance department of the Royal Air Force and after leaving the service pursued his interest in photography and began to work as a photojournalist for national newspapers and magazines. Unlike many photojournalists, however, his career began to become specialized and he joined the small and very unique band of photographers who have taken it upon themselves to record the ravages and horror of human conflict.
In many areas of photojournalism the photographer is simply a witness on the sidelines, not involved with what is taking place in front of his camera, but not so with a war photographer, since he must inevitably be a part of the action taking the same risks and needing the same courage as the soldiers he photographs. Another famous war photographer Robert Capa once said ‘if your pictures aren’t good you are not close enough’. Don McCullin has always been close enough. Quite apart from the dramatic nature of his subject his pictures have all the visual qualities that define a fine photograph and indeed, he has, and still does, photograph subjects other than war, creating equally memorable images.
Inspite of the urgency of his chosen subjects he is a fine craftsman, concerned with the subtleties of image quality, preferring the black and white medium to that of the color photography. This, in many ways, suits his particular style and approach since his pictures, including peaceful subjects, invariably have a grey, grim and disturbing quality, there is little joy to be seen in his work and it is interesting to wonder whether this is the result of his preoccupation with war, or whether he chose his subjects because of his own approach to photography. His books include The Destruction of Business, 1971, The Homecoming, 1979 and Hearts of Darkness, 1980.