Sir Don McCullin was born in 1935 in London’s Finsbury Park, a poor and rough area at the time. Today he is recognised as one of the world’s greatest photographers.
Between 1966 and 1984, McCullin worked for The Sunday Times Magazine. At the time, The Sunday Times was at the cutting edge of investigative, critical journalism. During this period, McCullin’s assignments included Biafra, the Belgian Congo, the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’, Bangladesh and the Lebanese civil war. It is his photographs of Vietnam and Cambodia that have become among the most famous and well-recognised.
McCullin took huge risks in order to take his photographs. He was threatened with a knife at a Muslim checkpoint in Beirut for having a Falangist press pass, blinded by CS gas during a riot in Derry, and wounded by fragments of mortar shell in Cambodia.
In 1981, Rupert Murdoch took over The Sunday Times; Harold Evans subsequently resigned citing differences over editorial independence in 1982. Soon after, replacement editor Andrew Neil dismissed McCullin after he’d complained about the newspaper’s lack of serious foreign and social coverage under the new regime.
In more recent years, McCullin has continued to travel internationally, photographing and printing new works from countries such as India, Syria and Africa, where he documented the AIDS crisis. One of his most ambitious journeys has been to explore the ruins in the southern fringes of the Roman Empire, a project that spanned over a number of years and is documented in McCullin’s book Southern Frontiers: A Journey Across the Roman Empire (2010). His newer images include the British landscape, notably of Somerset, where he now lives with his wife.
Most recently Sir Don McCullin was awarded a knighthood in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list and from 5th February - 6th May 2019 Tate Britain presented a major solo retrospective of his work, which was hugely successful. Tate Liverpool took on the exhibition in fall of 2020.
McCullin has been awarded numerous awards over the years, including two premier Awards from the World Press Photo and the 2006 Cornell Capa Award by the International Centre for Photography in New York for his lifetime contribution to photography. In 1993, he was the first photojournalist to be made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE). He is the author of more than a dozen books and his work is held in numerous private and public collections around the world.