A gloomy, wet day in London. The objective of going there was to see the Don McCullin exhibition currently on at Tate Britain. I've had the fortune (if that's the right term), to have been brought up alongside the publication of McCullin's photographs during the 1970s and 1980s in the Sunday Times Magazine. It woudn't be a lie to say that his photography has had an effect on my interest in photography, albeit from a much safer location. I first saw Sir Don's prints firsthand a few years ago at the Imperial War Museum (and heard him speak at a symposium there). The Tate exhibition is considerably larger than the IWM's, over 250 prints all hand printed by McCullin himself, and covers the entire range of his work from the early days of the 1960s, shooting in London's East End, right through to his second visit to Syria following the expulsion of ISIS in 2017. It is harrowing display of photography; it can't be anything else. But McCullin brings a humanity to it, laying bare the fact that all the damaged bodies and corpses were actual people. Like us.
I think it's also perfectly timed. Fifty plus years on from the shots of homeless men and women in Spitalfields the situation hasn't changed. From what was war torn Beirut we now have demolished Palmyra. Instead of Vietnam we have Afghanistan. The horrors of Biafra come to haunt us time and time again. And Northern Ireland? Where do we stand there at this point in our history?
The shots above are not meant to complement, compete, or anything that is in that exhibition. They're simply shots of London taken before, but mainly after, seeing the exhibition. They're an insignificant backdrop to the world McCullin presents to us.
Shot with: Fuji X100F, Acros custom settings