I guess that anyone with a more than passing interest in photography has heard of Don McCullin, the eminent war photographer, and one of the key practitioners who have changed how war imagery has been delivered to the masses during the course of the latter twentieth century.
His recently published film regarding his work as a photographer, and to use words with which I expect he would disagree - as a 'war photographer' provides a fascinating insight into the mind of experience of such an important figure.
From the perspective of student and writer of this study blog, McCullin as a reference ultimately provides a marker to my own practice, especially within the remit of commitment to your work.
He has, throughout his career maintained a diligent duty, in that he never gave up, and he maintained his reportage philosophy in that the negative elements of war need to be made know to the western world - via the medium of photography. In essence the basics are;
stick to your guns, believe in your work and never give up - I like this attitude, I can't say I can emulate, but the philosophy is right.
McCullin practiced his work in some of the most horrific and war ravaged areas of recent world history covering wars and conflicts in Cyprus, Congo, Biafra, Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Cambodia and Lebanon.
Now, from the above list in modern war geography it may be viewed that McCullin was an out and out adrenalin junkie, seeking his next fix of adventure and fame from and by the next Times Sunday supplement published image; either of casualty in war, murder or famine. However, what becomes apparent is that McCullin as a man, and as a human being, this essence always pervaded his character and ultimately affected McCullin the photographer, with scenes on occasion not being photographed or with civilians in war torn areas being assisted rather than photographed.
From the documentary, it becomes evident that McCullin is a morale man, on occasion not recording scenes which would have certainly aided his career at the time. He has, throughout his career maintained a very distinct sense of right and wrong, this I think has set him apart from other practitioners operating at the same time.
I don't expect to be a war photographer, however I expect to maintain my standards, never give up, keep improving and on occasion ensure my moral compass is working, some scenes need to be left alone...
McCullin is certainly a film worth watching...