War Photographer Don McCullin Reflects on a Career of Chasing Haunting Images

Here’s a powerful video shared by The Economist a couple of years ago that features acclaimed British photojournalist Don McCullin talking about his 50 years of photographing war, atrocities, and human suffering. (Warning: it contains disturbing images.)

McCullin reveals that he continues to pay a heavy price for his work in bringing haunting images into public consciousness:

These pictures live in my house. They live in my soul and they live in my house. And I think they somewhat poison that beautiful house where I live. In a way, war has kind of vanquished me, really. There’s a massive amount of contradiction swimming around in me… confusion… There’s not a great deal of room for joy. I do sound rather damaged.

When I go into the darkroom, I’m totally in my own territory […] I need nothing in that darkroom but the opportunity to drop a few sheets of paper in the developer and listen to classical music, and I feel as if I’ve levitated myself away from all the evils of the world.

Just how close did McCullin get to the “evils of the world” he was documenting? Well, in 1968, his Nikon F SLR camera was struck by an AK-47 bullet that was intended for him:

You can find out more about McCullin’s life and work over at Contact Press Images and on Wikipedia. We featured another short interview a year ago in which McCullin also talked about his struggle for peace of mind.

Thanks for sending in the tip, Vladimir!

Image credits: Video by The Economist, photograph by Don McCullin/Imperial War Museum

  • Patrick Niddrie

    This is a shocking, yet necessary video. It’s so easy to disconnect one’s self from these atrocities if we only read about them in the news. But to hear about the horrors of war from someone who was there, and to see the photographs from the damage it causes, has a huge impact. I say this video should be required viewing for the folks who shape our foreign policy!

  • Mario Liedtke

    Sad. “This video is nit available” is all that I get in germany…

  • Trausti Hraunfjörð

    This is really heart breaking to watch. The man chose to live his life in a field of destruction and organized murders… must have been the world’s worst job, quite literally. Soldiers who invade other countries are truly the scum of the earth… and that is a fact everyone knows to be true, ever since WWII. There are no excuses or reasons that can justify such vile actions…. yet these bastards are sent by the hundreds of thousands from the US and into the world.

    If Russia did the same thing, it would be called for a cruel thing… but ironically, when the US does it, it is only patriotic and good (sounds so nazistic that it makes me sick).

  • Trausti Hraunfjörð

    … and those who shape the wars (create them), should be used for target practice by default.

  • Mansgame

    No matter how good of a photographer I become, I will never ever come close to being on the same level as that guy.

  • Jonathan Maniago

    It takes guts to take up a profession that doesn’t allow people to forget the horrors that they’ve witnessed. If I were in his shoes, I’d probably succumb to depression if the bullets didn’t get me first.

  • Boštjan Burger

    People never learn things… always blind or puppets of someone else… same is happening right now, very this moment… but for that are only news, like illusion and not being real.

  • Young Lee

    His voice.. the sound of a man broken by lifelong witnessing of unimaginable evils of humanity..

  • ProtoWhalePig

    Russia did do the same thing. Many times. Many more times than the US, in fact. But don’t let that get in the way of your prejudices.

  • Lulamm

    thank good he is not posing in front of the dead or destroyed buildings….

    he would have to face petapixels hypocrisy….

  • John Kantor

    Maybe he’d find “peace of mind” if he stood up for something rather than merely exploiting misery.

  • Thankyou

    Thank you Mr. McCullin for your years of work. I hope you get to enjoy the Somerset sunshine in the twilight of your life. You earned it.

  • Vlad Dusil

    The point behind photojournalism in conflict areas seems to escape you.

  • Martin Price

    “Soldiers who invade other countries are truly the scum of the earth”

    No, the politicians who lie to “their own” countries and send the troops to do things just for the benefit of the politicians are the scum.

  • Matt

    It’s not just soldiers and militaries. The boys mentioned, they’re militias and gangs. No respect for their neighbors, in the same way that a fighting man has trouble sympathizing for those trying to kill his brothers-in-arms.
    There are two stories in the video: the one of men who kill one another, and the one of people who have basic needs of food and shelter going unmet.

  • Trausti Hraunfjörð

    And I congratulate you for bringing proof of your claim to the table Mr.Pig.

    Oh… you didn’t. What a non-surprise.