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News & Insight

British Photojournalist Don McCullin Knighted

By Bing Putney on January 1st 2017

Today, according to the London Gazette, the Queen of England “has been graciously pleased to signify her intention of conferring the honour of Knighthood” on photojournalist Don McCullin for “for services to photography.”

Photograph: Don McCullin

Sir Donald McCullin CBE, as he shall now be known, served as a photographer’s assistant in the Royal Air Force in the mid-1950’s before embarking on his own photojournalistic career in 1959. Much of his work was for the Sunday Times Magazine, for whom he covered war zones and humanitarian crises around the globe.

Photograph: Don McCullin

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”

He also photographed the Beatles in 1968, in the midst of their wild popularity. The photos, known collectively as “Mad Day Out” include many well known images. The set was published in 2010 in the book “A Day in the Life of The Beatles.”

Don McCullin

For a more in depth look at McCullin’s life and work, David and Jacqui Morris directed a documentary film about his life titles “McCullin.” It was released in 2012 and was nominated for two BAFTA awards.

Later in life, he turned away from photographing war, conflict and suffering, and instead began shooting landscape, still life, and portrait work, saying:

“I have been manipulated, and I have in turn manipulated others, by recording their response to suffering and misery. So there is guilt in every direction: guilt because I don’t practise religion, guilt because I was able to walk away, while this man was dying of starvation or being murdered by another man with a gun. And I am tired of guilt, tired of saying to myself: “I didn’t kill that man on that photograph, I didn’t starve that child.” That’s why I want to photograph landscapes and flowers. I am sentencing myself to peace.”

He now lives in Somerset County in South West England, is married, and has a total of five children from his current and previous marriages. For a more in depth look into the mind and works of Don, the following presentation by the BBC is worth your time.


Bing is a professional portrait and on-set still photographer who lives in Los Angeles, and frequently travels the world to explore new and interesting cultures and pastries.

Instagram: @bingputney

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Hannes Nitzsche

    This was real powerful! It reminded me a lot of the salt of the earth… an almost unfathomable story that crushes you – but that also inspires… and it got me thinking, what impact does my work have out there and where can I take it?
    Thanks for sharing this article and fantastic video! It’s well worth watching for anyone interested in any form of photography!!

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