Donald McCullin
[Photographer, b. 1935, Finsbury Park, London, lives in Somerset, England.]

 I am sometimes accused by my peers of printing my pictures too dark. All I can say is that it goes with the mood of melancholy that is induced by witnessing at close quarters such intractable situations of conflict and joylessness. 
 It wasn’t my fault if in Sabra and Shatila the light was almost biblical, if what happened in front of my eyes was like a scene out of Goya. 
 The camera was a key to open up my life. It was like opening a huge window to the world. It gave me education, it gave me hope, it gave me travel, and in the end, after giving me all those things, it started taking things away from me. It took my mind away from me, it took things back from me. You don’t own those things in the beginning. You don’t own yourself in the beginning, you’re just dumped on this earth and you have to stand up and try to walk and try to get through it. 
 Although I take my work seriously I cannot take myself seriously. When you think of it, everything has happened by accident. I have always believed that I don’t own my photography, rather that it owns me. It gave me a life, an extraordinary life which could never be repeated. I feel as if the gift of seeing what is really going on in the world is mine only so long as I put it to proper use. There is nothing to be claimed and nothing to regret, except that we go on treating our fellow human beings so badly. 
 The real struggle now takes place in my darkroom where I try to resist the temptation of printing my pictures too dark. 
 People have always said that the darkroom is my womb, and I suppose that’s true. I like the consistency of the dark. It keeps me safe. 
 I’m like an old junkie, in a way. You don’t stick syringes in your arm—you go straight for the most important part of your body, the brain. You are destroying it the moment you go to your first war. 
quotes 25-31 of 31
first page previous page page 4 of 4
display quotes