Reflection on Don McCullin

As I was unable to attend the session as I had a hospital appointment, I was sent the PowerPoint presentation that was used in the session. In this PowerPoint it had links to YouTube videos. We all were expected to watch the links.

The documentary was really insightful as Don McCullin openly talks about the effects of his job role and from a personal level. He also explained the emotional challenges when having to photograph hard news. Some of the things he referred to was how it affected him emotionally and mentally. He knew full well that he would have to see some of the most tragic and upsetting scene in his line of work.

McCullin said  “photography for me is not looking, its 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.”

I did further research into Don McCullin’s and came across one of his books: Don McCullin (2003). When reading the book it set the scene about don McCullin and his home life then moved onto the different conflicts and wars. There were passages from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Beirut. I believe that McCullin when writing this book focused on the humanity aspect and throughout the majority of his work. In the book it showcased a large amounts of his photography work. The images I thought were quite disturbing and showcased the harsh reality of war. McCullin’s work is extraordinary as he was one of the first photojournalists to capture photographs the ways he did. His work draws viewers in and makes them connect with what’s going on in the image.

One of the images that caught my eye was;

don mcc


This image is so powerful, it really shows suffering and the mind-sets of the solider. This image to me shows the solider is dead behind the eyes. The emotions are very reserved, but at the same time showcase fear, sadness and so much more. I really like the negative space over the soldier’s right shoulder, it has a very faint outline of what looks to be a tank. It makes the danger seem incredibly close.


McCullin’s career began in 1959, he specialized in examining the dark side of society, from conflicts, poverty/ the third world countries and death. One of the most interesting facts I learned about him was that in 1968 when he was out doing his work, a gunman shot a bullet aiming for McCullin however, his Nikon camera stopped a bullet intended for him. He also has been awarded a number of awards for his photography.

I think by reading the content on the PowerPoint and conducting independent research on Don McCullin it is really humbling to hear and see some of the situations he was involved in. by listening to a professional it has opened my eyes. I don’t think me as a journalist would be able to cope with this line of work. I am too emotional and as I have a disability am at a disadvantage in this area.

War and conflicts are so important and it is cruel that there are people out there like McCullin, to capture and tell the events to viewers. Viewers will never really understand the enormity of the situation but images can speak millions of words. I truly am taken back by McCullin’s work as there is so much depth and skill. Most of McCullin’s work is in Black and White this helps to increase the level of depth. Grey scale makes viewers look at the whole image and not just the main focal point. A lot of the images feature people looking directly towards the camera, this increase the human quality and increase the emotion and connects with the viewer.