Born in 1935, Don McCullin grew up in north London amidst the blight of the aftermath of the bombings of World War ll. At the age of fifteen, he left school and joined the Royal Air Force as a photographic assistant in Egypt, Cyprus, and Kenya, where he bought his first camera. Beginning in the 1960s, McCullin worked as a photographer documenting war and other human conflict in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Northern Ireland, primarily for the Sunday Times Magazine. In the 1980s, McCullin began to capture other subjects, traveling to Indonesia, India, and Africa and returning with dramatic photo essays focused on remote places and peoples. Over the past three decades, he turned to the English landscape for more serene images, which are the subject of his most recent book, published in 2018. And, he has continued to document conflict in recent years, travelling to northern Iraq to photograph the Kurds’ struggle with ISIS, Syria, and Turkey in October 2015.
Among McCullin’s many honors are a 1961 British Press Award for his essay on the construction of the Berlin Wall, a World Press Photo of the Year award in 1964 for his coverage of the armed eruption of ethnic and nationalistic tension in Cyprus. In 1993 he was the first photojournalist to be awarded a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). McCullin was awarded the 2006 Cornell Capa Award by the International Center for Photography in New York for his lifetime contribution to the medium, and in 2017, he was awarded a knighthood by the Queen of England for his services to photography.
He is the author of more than a dozen books (mostly published by Jonathan Cape), including his autobiography Unreasonable Behaviour, 1990, updated and published again in 2015, and Don McCullin: The New Definitive Edition retrospective, published the same year. In 2010 he published Southern Frontiers, a record of the Roman Empire’s legacy in North Africa and the Middle East. McCullin’s work has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions including Tate Britain, Barbican Centre, Imperial War Museum, London; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; and National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. His work is held in museum collections around the world including Tate and Victoria and Albert Museum, London.