Thought-Provoking Must See Interview with Iconic Conflict Photographer Don McCullin

Don McCullin is a household name in the photographic community, but as far as he is concerned, it’s for all the wrong reasons. In this incredibly poignant and thought-provoking interview, he shares his thoughts about an illustrious career that was spent photographing atrocities, and left him somewhat haunted.

We really can’t over-emphasize how much of a must-see interview this is (a problem not unique to our coverage of it…). In three and a half minutes he shares such a wealth of inspiration and experience that you’ll find yourself watching the whole thing over and over again — at least we did.


McCullin is famous for his piercing images of conflict, for a life spent ‘chasing haunting images‘ that have left him with memories he would rather not have. But they’ve also left him with invaluable insight into what is truly important in life.

He considers himself very fortunate — and not just because he was, at one point, saved from a sniper’s bullet by his Nikon F SLR. He now photographs the English landscape and hopes that this will be the legacy he leaves behind.

“When my time’s up on this Earth I want to leave a legacy behind of beautiful landscape pictures of Somerset,” says McCullin in closing. “I don’t want to be remembered as a war photographer… I hate that title.”

The interview was created by photographer David Sims for the Dunhill ‘Voices’ campaign, which focuses on persons who exemplify “elegance and achievement.” To see more of the interviews in the series, head over to the Dunhill website by clicking here.

(via Fstoppers)

  • Simon Prunty

    “Somewhat” haunted? That’s an understatement… Brilliant photographer, one of the best ever. Sad to see him so damaged and embittered by his career. Yes, he took images of suffering and pain, but I think he overlooks the fact that by showing those images to the wider world he actually gave a voice and identity to scores of otherwise anonymous victims of systematic brutality; in my opinion, as awful as his experiences must have been, he did a great duty to those people.

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  • hini

    I love Don McCullin and I feel sad because he is wrong.

    When I meet the suffering, the dying victims they want the world to know who are the oppressors, who are the murders. They don´t want to be alone and nobody cares. If they must die they want the world to know who were the perpetrators.
    Don Mc Cullin was important for the victims. Sometimes he was the only witness.

    The problem does not begin when we take the photo. The problem begins when we come home with all the dramatic stories in our head and we feel that the people around us all have their own little problems and nobody is interested.

    We contact the editor and he is not interested, maybe two weeks before he has seen photos from another region of the world. Piles with more dead bodies than on our photo, he is not interested because there are beautiful photos with the prime ministers new girlfriend, our story does not harmonize with the newspapers advertising insert or the magazine is misusing our photo. They are printing our photo but they don´t want to hear the real story behind it and they don´t want to hear our witness statement.

    So the problem is not he photographer. Don Mc Cullin had done a great job. If there is a problem the problem is the publishing business machine. And we must try our best to change that unbearable situation.

    Sorry my bad english, it´s not my native tongue.

  • R John Mitchell

    He hates the title of war photographer, so you called him an iconic conflict photographer. Good one.

  • Chrisf24

    his work has left a lasting impression on my life and I’m sure many others. He has created powerful images that will never leave my mind. There will never be another like him.

  • Stan B.

    Here we have one of photography’s all time greats, discussing one of photography’s all time dilemmas- 4 freaking comments…

    Slap on the umpteenth argument about sensor size and Canon vs. Nikon and watch the learned opinions fly ad nauseum!

  • yopyop

    Is that really a problem ? Not every article calls for comments. When it’s about art, the emotions you feel, you may be speechless or not in need of expressing any opinion/comment. Even though I wish there was a better balance between gear and everything-but-gear articles on petapixel or any other photography websites, I’m not sure the comments are the problem. Like they say, “Hate the game not the player”.

  • OtterMatt

    I can’t see how you can do what he did and not be radically changed, and not necessarily for the better. A lifetime spent seeing atrocities would just wear you down into desperation, and I think he’s handled himself remarkably, all things considered. I’d say that I’m proud of him for taking that bullet for all of us, and for sharing the stories that his images captured.

  • clair estelle

    such a great man and talented photographer

  • Tim Schaefer

    You weren’t wrong with the opening par of this article. Truly a fascinating 3.5 minutes. What a wonderful man.

  • Stan B.

    Yes, I’d really like to believe that- but I somehow have great difficulty believing that the major reason there isn’t more response is because everyone is so overwrought with emotion, so lost in thought, that they simply can’t respond. Or maybe I’ve just lived in America too long.

  • yopyop

    Or you know on petapixel everything is awesome, jaw-dropping, incredible, fascinating… no wonder people have no words ! ;-)

  • Patrik

    buy a fuji xt1