Don McCULLIN Exhibition Review

Don McCullin Exhibition at The Tate Modern, London


QUOTE from Don McCullin

“I started out in photography accidentally. A policeman came to a stop at the end of my street and a guy knifed him. Thats how I became a photographer. I photographed the gangs that I went to school with. I didnt choose photography, it seemed to choose me, but I’ve been loyal by risking my life for fifty years “

I’d been desperate to get to this exhibition to see McCullins great, iconic and gritty black & white images from his time as one of our best war, documentary and humanitarian photographers.

The exhibition exceeded all my expectations with 250 beautifully presented images in several halls, all printed by himself along with a short video presentation it covers his full career. I’d definitley recommend going.

Although I loved the whole exhibition I just wanted to talk about a handful of images that stand out for me personally and why they resonate with me and the style of photography that I so enjoy

Print 1 Vietnam

Without doubt one of my favourite images and I totally understand why this is the headline image for the exhibition.

It’s a great storytelling documentary image, it may even be set up but who cares as it totally tells a story of a young soldier looking out of an apartment window perhaps thinking of his own family and homeland. What makes the picture great and takes it to the higest level is the vietnamese couple framed on the floor probably in their own appartment looking into the place they once hapilly lived.

I love the simplicity of the image, the powerful storytelling and the framing.

Print 2 The soldiers Foot

A great three layered photographers picture, probably taken on his rollicord camera due to the square crop. This type of camera has allowed the photograher to hold the camera low to get a great perspective with forground interest, a secondary layer of the soldier and the third layer showing daily life still going on.

Print 3 Northern Ireland

This is without doubt my favourite image and one that Id buy for myself. I love the composition and the fact that he’s in close with the action. I love it because its storytlling, , all the spaces are filled and all the heads are in their own spaces . I think what elevates the picture is the young lad hanging and just about to jump filling the sapce between the two groups of three boys.

Images from around the exhibition

QUOTE from Don McCullin

“When I realised I had been given the go-ahead to photograph, I started composing my picturesin a very dignified way. It was the first time I had pictured somethingof this immense signigicance and I felt as if I had a canvas in front of me and I was, stroke by stroke, applying the compositionto a story that was telling itself. I was I realised later, trying to photograph in a way that Goya painted or did his war sketches”.


QUOTE from Don McCullin

“I dont believe you can see whats beyond the edge unless you put your head over it; I’ve many times been right up to the precipice, not even a foot or an inch away. Thats the only place to be if your going to see and show what sufffering really means “


QUOTE from Don McCullin

 ” The photograpic equipment I take on an assignmentis my head and my eyes and my heart. I could take the poorest equipment and I would still take the same photographs. They might not be as sharp, but they would certainly say the same thing “


To see or find out about the exhibition