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




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.[1][2]

In 1959, a photograph he took of a local London gang was published in The Observer.[3] 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 and victims of the African AIDS epidemic.[2] His hard-hitting coverage of the Vietnam War and the Northern Ireland conflict is particularly highly regarded.

McCullin's work was considered so powerful and evocative that in 1982 the British Government refused to grant him a press pass to cover the Falklands War.[4][5]

In 1968, his Nikon camera stopped a bullet intended for him.[6]

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).

Selected awards

McCullin received the World Press Photo Award in 1964 for his coverage of the war in Cyprus. In the same year he was awarded the Warsaw Gold Medal. In 1977, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, placing the letters 'FRPS' after his name. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bradford in 1993 and an honorary degree by the Open University in 1994.

He was granted the CBE in 1993, the first photojournalist to receive the honour.[7]

McCullin was awarded the Cornell Capa Award in 2006.[8]

On 4 December 2008, McCullin was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Gloucestershire in recognition of his lifetime's achievement in photojournalism.[9]

Family life

In later years, McCullin has turned to landscape and still-life works and taking commissioned portraits. Currently living in Somerset, he is married and has five children from this and earlier marriages.[2]

Selected works

  • The Destruction Business. Open Gate Books. 1971. ISBN 0333130227.  
  • Is Anyone Taking Any Notice?. MIT Press. 1973.  
  • Anton Wallich-Clifford & Don McCullin (1974). No Fixed Abode. Macmillan.  
  • Homecoming. Macmillan. 1979.  
  • Jonathan Dimbleby & Don McCullin (1980). The Palestinians. Quartet Books. ISBN 0-7043-3322-8.  
  • Hearts of Darkness: Photographs by Don McCullin. Secker and Warburg. 1980.  
  • Don McCullin. (1983). Beirut: A City in Crisis. New English Library. ISBN 0450060373.  
  • Don McCullin. (1987). Perspectives. Harrap. ISBN 0245543686.  
  • Don McCullin ; introduction by John Fowles. (1989). Open Skies. Cape. ISBN 0224025392.  
  • Norman Lewis & Don McCullin (1993). An Empire of the East: Travels in Indonesia. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0224032305.  
  • introduction by Mark Haworth-Booth ; designed by David King. (1994). Sleeping with Ghosts: A Life's Work in Photography. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0224032410.  
  • Don McCullin ; (1999). India. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0224050893.  
  • Cold Heaven. Christian Aid. 2001. ISBN 0904379477.  
  • Don McCullin; with Lewis Chester. (2002). Unreasonable Behaviour: An Autobiography. Vintage. ISBN 0-09-943776-7.  
  • introduction by Harold Evans ; essay by Susan Sontag. (2003). Don McCullin. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-07118-1.  
  • Life Interrupted. Christian Aid. 2004. ISBN 0904379647.  
  • Don McCullin. (2005). Don McCullin in Africa. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-07514-4.  
  • Don McCullin (2007). Don McCullin in England. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 9780224078702.  


  • "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."
  • "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."
  • "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."[10]


  1. ^ Leo Benedictus, "Don McCullin's best shot", Guardian (London), 29 March 2007. A shortened version of this interview, omitting this material, appears here.
  2. ^ a b c Edemariam, Aida (2005-08-25), "The human factor (interview)", The Observer,,11710,1543313,00.html  
  3. ^ Peres, Michael R.; Osterman, Mark; Romer, Grant B.; Lopez, J. Tomas (2008), The Concise Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, Focal Press, ISBN 024080998X  
  4. ^ Morris, Roderick (1997-10-30), "Don McCullin's Harrowing Images of War", International Herald Tribune,  
  5. ^ Das, P (Jan 2005), "Don McCullin", The Lancet infectious diseases (Victoria and Albert Museum) 5 (1): 15, doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(04)01248-4, ISSN 1473-3099, PMID 15620555,, retrieved 2007-03-31  
  6. ^ McCullin, Donald; Lewis Chester (2002). Unreasonable Behaviour, An Autobiography. Vintage Books. pp. 137–138. ISBN 9780099437765.  
  7. ^ "Don McCullin biography". Under Fire: Images from Vietnam. Piece Unique Gallery. Retrieved 2007-03-30.  
  8. ^ "Cornell Capa Award". Retrieved 2007-03-31.  
  9. ^ "Honorary Awards Announced". University of Gloucestershire. 3 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-10.  
  10. ^ Horvatland - Frank Horvat Photography: Entre Vues - Don McCullin

External links

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