My responsibility towards mankind is to show how the war I am photographing is ugly and uncompromising. Young people, over here, have grown up with a Hollywood vision of the war: frivolous and glamorous, filled with handsome and muscular guys, nicely tanned, That’s not what war is about. My goal is to show what it is really about: ugly and repugnant. I haven’t turned down an invitation to war or revolution in twenty years. Why? Why, for instance, did I spend four years in Vietnam? I can feel the reason but I can’t articulate it. […]
So there is guilt in every decision: guilt because I don’t practise religion, guilt because I was able to walk away while this man was dying of starvation or being murdered by another man with a gun. And I am tired of guilt, tired of saying to myself: “I didn’t kill that man on that photograph, I didn’t starve that child.” That’s why I want to photograph landscapes and flowers. I am sentencing myself to peace. […]
I have a rather confused view of the world and the way it works. But the minute I hold a camera in my hands, the confusion disappears. As soon as I look through the viewfinder, everything becomes clear and transparent like crystal. I see the good and the evil in humanity. And I try to record them on film.[…]
I love photography - I respect it, I worship it, and I think about it all the time. I just don’t want people to call me a war photographer. It’s nice to be called a photographer. It’s the only title I need.
~ Don McCullin, excerpts from his autobiography and various interviews, in Don McCullin, Thames & Hudson Photofile, 2007