Don McMullin and Irreconcilable Truths

Nikon F camera
     

Don McMullin was born in 1935. Don McCullin is the war photographer’s “war photographer”. In fact, he’s probably the only photographer who can claim a Nikon F camera saved his life. (when a bullet hit it) Before war, he made a name for himself photographing the London gangs in the late 50’s. These photographs ended up in The Observer. From the 60’s to the 80’s he worked for the Sunday Times Magazine, covering various war zones in Africa, Asia and Northern Ireland. His work on the African AID’s epidemic and the Vietnam War are highly regarded.

 

Don McMullin

 

But he wasn’t just a “war” photographer. In 1968 he took all the images associated with the Beatles “White Album”, and later published in the book, ‘A Day in the Life of the Beatles’. His books include ‘The Palestinians’, ‘Beirut: A City in Crisis’, ‘Shaped by War’ and ‘Don McCullin in Africa’. ‘Shaped by War’ was accompanied by a slew of major retrospective exhibits, including the Victoria Art Gallery.

 

Don McMullin

 

His Nikon F Camera

While he has used a few different cameras throughout his career, (like the Mamiya Universal Press), it was probably the Nikon F’s that contributed to most of his work. Even other photojournalists at Magnum and elsewhere agree he is the 20th century’s greatest photographer. He has been badly wounded in Cambodia, imprisoned in Uganda, expelled from Vietnam and had a bounty on his head in Lebanon. Like I said; He is the epitome of a conflict photographer.

 

Don McMullin

 

Controversy

A documentary film of his life, ‘McMullin’, was nominated for 2 BAFTA awards in 2012. In his twilight years he has turned to still life and landscapes. While he has always been thought of as a controversial figure, especially as it applies to the horrors of war and his iconic images of Biafra, his biggest controversy seems to be his disdain for digital photography.

 

Don McMullin

 

His statement that “Digital photography is one big lie.” made more of a stir than his graphic images of the AID’s epidemic in Africa. Hey,…go figure. It’s just the opinion of one very honest and honored photographer. And I’d be the first to agree if I have to look at one more HDR image. Otherwise,…use what you like. It’s just a tool. Like his Nikon F camera. Old, but a solid image maker.

 

Don McMullin

 

Well Deserved Knighthood

In 2015 he was named the “Master of Photography for London”. He had an special honorary exhibit at Somerset House in 2016. Among his many photographic awards, probably being knighted by the Queen in 2016 was his greatest honor. So, I should have started this story with “Sir Don McMullin”. A great honor indeed. Visit his site below to see more awesome images. And all his books are a must have for any collector.

Website

3 Comments

  • Reply
    jace
    May 30, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Don McCullin is actually NOT the best or greatest war photographer. I used to think so, but not until I discovered the work of Stanley Greene, an unsung American photojournalist who was very well received and embraced by Europe, but who never received wide acceptance in America. I don’t think America cared for him at all. Most of his photographs of Africa look very clinical. Stanley Greene was the GREATEST war photographer out there. His images of war are the most poetic and beautiful photographs I have ever seen. I was completely shocked that I never heard of him until this year! Every other war photographer have been celebrated here in America, but not this man. Now I understand why he made the decision to move to Europe where he was very welcomed. He was smart just like Jimmy Hendricks who moved to the UK to build his career because he was not accepted in America early in his career until after his stay in the UK. Stanley Greene’s War photographs are cold, icy, depressive, extremely psychological and very poetic. I never stop looking at his work. His book “Black Passport” is out of print and copies at the Aperture foundation sells for a whopping $650.00 a copy. It is an amazing book. Donate an eyeball to get a copy if you must have film and can’t afford to spend too much on books. Stanley Greene passed away this month at the age of 68 of liver cancer.

    • Reply
      jace
      May 30, 2017 at 8:36 am

      I apologize for the confusion. In line 3 where it says: “Most of his photographs of Africa look very clinical” I was referring to the work of Don McCullin.

  • Reply
    AnatomyFilms
    May 30, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Due to his recent death, we have a story coming up on Stanley Greene. A mostly Leica and Nikon shooter who normally carried 3 cameras with him. One with color negative film, one with black and white film, and one with chrome! But he wasn’t actually a war photographer, per se’. And didn’t like that label. He photographed punk concerts, social issues, was a teacher, and a lot more. I believe his last project was photographing the sex trafficking of underage boys in Thailand.

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