Sound and vision blog

Sound and moving images from the British Library

05 July 2023

Recording of the week: Don McCullin on war photography

I chose this interview with the war photographer Don McCullin to gain a deeper understanding of photography as a profession and, more specifically, photojournalism.

From Finsbury Park, London, Don McCullin has collaborated with many national and international newspapers covering major world conflicts. He has won several awards including the prestigious World Press Photo of the Year award in 1964.

Photo of Don McCullin in 1964.jpg

Above: Don McCullin pictured in 1964.

In this conversation recorded at ICA London he begins by acknowledging photography as a way to discover himself. He wonders whether it is possible to shape people attitudes towards events with his photographs.

Don McCullin speaking at the ICA

Download Transcript Don McCullin

A question I’ve asked myself many times is how best to portray humanity using photography? What is the decisive moment for street photography? To cite Henri Cartier-Bresson’s words;

‘Finding a more honest way to approach people in photography is crucial: a compassionate manner is perhaps the way of doing it. ‘

A photojournalist will capture a moment. It has to be an honest exercise made with sympathetic eyes, with the intent to capture reality.

People often want to know what sparked the photographers curiosity in them. He talks about being the innocent foreigner; what is his role in these portraits of humanity?

A photograph allows us to look at society and question its dynamics.

Todays post written by Guilia Baldorilli, reference specialist