“There was a sniper, he was trying to kill me, and he hit my camera which was by my face, and I still have that Nikon camera with a bullet hole in it". So begins one of the most compelling interviews I’ve ever seen. Welcome to a rip-roaring three minutes and twenty seconds of a wonderful journey into the mind of Don McCullin.
In a little over three minutes, Don McCullin delivers some of the most jaw dropping, insightful thoughts of any professional photographer I’ve ever heard talk. This is easily one of the (if not the) most insightful interviews of any photographer (or any person for that matter) I’ve seen, recently or otherwise.
McCullin is one of the most well regarded war photographers of a generation, and although he hates being referred to in this way, covering conflict has defined much of his career. The fact he shoots landscapes now, and wants to leave a legacy other than that of documenting war, speaks volumes about what he has had to see, endure and capture while in the field.
This interview was directed by Jonny Madderson and co-directed by Jono Stevens and produced by Just So in London and forms part of the Dunhill “Voices” campaign. Dunhill set out to showcase key figures who exemplified a pioneering, adventurous spirit. As you hear McCullin talk, it’s almost as if his DNA is imprinted with these sorts of characteristics. What makes the interview so astonishing, to me at least, is what we see when we get to peer into McCullin’s mind.
He talks about not being able to stop what’s going on in front of the lens. Not being in control and, specifically with regard to the horrors of war and conflict photography, wrestling with what he has seen, how he has dealt with it and continues to deal with it. He talks about what drives him and how each day is a new opportunity to discover the world around him.
I love how he provides the analogy of comparing the freedom he enjoys now shooting landscapes to like “being in a supermarket, able to fill his bag and just walk out without paying”. Perhaps the most poignant part of the interview is the final moments, when he talks about what he hopes to leave as his legacy.
This short interview is incredible because of how insightful it is, and in such a short space of time. I could sit and listen to this sort of stuff all day.
Have a look and let me know what you guys thought, would love to know if this had as strong an impression on you as it did on me.
Correction - this article originally credited stills photographer David Sims with this interview. While David shot the stills campaign for Voices, this interview was actually directed by Jonny Madderson, co-directed by Jono Stevens and produced by Just London. Check out their other work, it's pretty damn amazing.