Having learned how to use a cameras in the Royal Air Force, McCullin’s photographic break came early in his career, when his pictures of a street gang, later linked with the murder of a policeman, were published in the Observer newspaper. This led quickly to war assignments for the leading British Sunday newspapers. Taking enormous risks, he soon achieved his ambition to be known as a photographer. While best known for his war images (most notably from the Congo, Vietnam and Cambodia), McCullin’s work at home on the underclass of English society, his haunting landscapes and darkly luminous still-lifes are all part of the man and his photography. Through his autobiographical accounts, we know more about his anxieties and pains than those of any other photographer.

He once said that “when human beings are suffering, they tend to look up, as if hoping for salvation. And that’s when I press the button.”

 

1954

Don Mccullin reports to RAF Cardington at the start of national service. After completing basic training at Wilmslow, he is deployed as a photographic assistant to RAF Benson, Oxfordshire, sorting Second World War aerial reconnaissance films. Volunteers for oversea service.

1955

Don McCullin is deployed to RAF photographic sections at Suez (12 months), Kenya (RAF Eastleigh, Nairobi, during Mau Mau Rebellion for 6 months), Aden and Cyprus ( RAF Episkopi). Fials written RAF photography trade test but purchases first camera Rolleicord 4, while in Kenya.

1956

Don McCullin is demobilised and returns to work at W.M. Larkin Cartoon Studios as a darkroom assistant.

1957

Don McCullin pawns his Rolleicord camera which is subsequently redeemed by his mother.

1958

Following the murder of a policeman by a London gang member, Don McCullin offers his photograph of The Guvʼnors to the Observer picture editor, Cliff Hopkinson, who commissions further photographs.

1959

Don McCullinʼs first photographic feature published in the Observer.

1960

Don McCullin starts work as a freelance photojournalist, supplying material to News Chronicle, Town and the Observer.

1961

Don McCullin travels to Berlin (without assignment) to cover construction of Berlin wall. Photographs published by the Observer.

Wins British Press Photography Award for Berlin work. Placed under contract as part-time freelance photojournalist for the Observer.

1962

Don McCullin covers protests against Cuban Missile Crisis and other protests by anti-war campaigners.

1963

Don McCullin travels to north of England during the harsh winter where he completes his first major photographic essay on the steelworkers of West Hartlepool.

1964

Don McCullin covers Congo disguised as mercenary, including the Stanleyville massacre.

1965

Don McCullin leaves the Observer to become freelance photojournalist for the Sunday Times.

Covers the Vietnam war (the first of 15 trips to Vietnam) for the Illustrated London.

1966 – 1973

Assignments include Vietnam, Battle for Hue, Tet Offensive, Czechoslvakia, Biafra, The London homeless, New Guinea, Chad, Jordan, Cambodia, Northern Ireland, Guatemala, Bangladesh cholera epidemic, Nothern Ireland Londonderry riots, Uganda, Tuaregs famine, Niger, Isreal (Yom Kippur war)

1970

Badly injured in Cambodia

1971

First book published

1976

Assignments include Beirut and Berlin

1979

Second book published

Third book published

1980

Assignments include Mujaheddin in Afghanistan

First major exhibition at Victoria and Albert Museum

Fourth book published

1981 – 1982

Assignments include El Salvador – badly injured

1982

Assignments include Siege of Beirut and Christian Phalange massacre of Palestinians

1983

Fifth book published

1987

Sixth book published

Seventh book published

1989

Eighth book published

1990

Ninth book published : his autobiography

1991

Assignments include Kurdish Rebellion in Iraq

1992

Awarded Erich Salomon Prize

1993

Awarded the CBE

Tenth book published

Awarded Honory Doctorate by University of Bradford

1994

Eleventh book published

1998

Retrospective exhibition at The Barbican, London

1999

Assignments include covering the HIV/Aids epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa

2001

Twelvth book published

Thirteenth book published

2002

Assignments include Omo Valley, Ethiopia

2003

Assignments include invasion of Iraq

2005

Fourteenth book published

2007

Assignments include Darfur refugees from Sudan

Fifteenth book published

Awarded Centenary Medal by Royal Photographic Society

2008

Sixteenth book published

2010

Major exhibition and publication with Imperial War Museum

Seventeenth book published

2011

Awarded Honory Doctorate by University of Bath

Eighteenth book published

2012

A two hour documentary about his life and work premiered

2013

The documentary about his life and work receives two BAFTA nominations

Major retrospective at the National Gallery Of Canada in Ontario

Guest of honour and major retrospective exhibition at 25th Visa Pour L’Image, Perpignan, France

2014

Begins his landmark publishing project entitled “Irreconcilable Truths”. A three volume, 1,300 page retrospective featuring over 700 photographs, many of which have never been published before. Limited to 1000 copies

2016

Major solo exhibition at Les Rencontres De La Photographie in Arles. To be held at Église Sainte-Anne