Sir Don McCullin was born in 1935 in London’s Finsbury Park, a poor and rough area at the time. Leaving school at fifteen with no qualifications, McCullin signed up to National Service in the RAF as a photographic assistant. In 1959, McCullin took his first published photograph of The Guvnors, a London gang who had been involved in a murder. This inimitable image appeared in The Observer that same year. It was this, teamed with his decision based on nothing more than his own intuition to go to Berlin to photograph the start of the building of the Wall, which secured his contract with The Observer in 1961. Initially based on projects in London, his commissions soon took him around the world, starting with the Cyprus War in 1964. This marked the start of his career as a photographer of war and other human disasters.
Most recently McCullin has been awarded a knighthood in the 2017 New Years Honors list. 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 (mostly published by Jonathan Cape), including his acclaimed autobiography Unreasonable Behavior (1990), updated and published again in 2015, and his Don McCullin: The New Definitive Edition retrospective, published the same year. In 2011, alongside Hamiltons’ exposition of his platinum prints, the Tate Britain presented a solo exhibition comprising a wide selection of his subjects, and the Imperial War Museum displayed Shaped By War, featuring over 250 photographs, contact sheets and personal memorabilia. McCullin’s work has not only been exhibited in numerous exhibitions, but is held in various museum collections around the world. McCullin is today recognized as one of our greatest photographers.