Friday, 3 September 2010

The Mc's

Over the last few weeks I have been reading the autobiography of Don McCullin, Unreasonable Behaviour. For those not in the know (I put my hands up to the fact I wasn't either) - he was an incredible photojournalist. A photojournalist whose career was forged in the 60s and went on throughout the 70s and 80s:

A revolutionary time in photojournalism as well of course politically across the globe. It's a brilliant book - whether you're chasing the photojournalism dream, a geeky historian, a triggy happy bravo two zero or just want some good reading. So recommended.

In Cyprus: I went out into the middle of this gun battle and took shelter behind an armoured car, wrongly thinking it would give me protection. From this vantage point I took the picture that aroused much comment – of a Turkish gunman emerging at a run, his shadow sharply defined on a wall. I took risks that later I would never have taken. I was determined to face up to fear and defy it. As the battle moved I ran here, there and everywhere. I was wound up to an extreme pitch, feeling completely surrounded by this onslaught and weighted down with the responsibility of being the only pressman there to record what was going on and to convey it to the world. I ran from street to street, trying not to miss one significant thing, trying to get as close as possible, to carry myself into situations where reporters, and especially reporters with cameras, were never meant to be. Some shots I took when I was in the direct firing ling of snipers.
It was a kind of madness.
In Biafra: It was beyond war, it was beyond journalism, it was beyond photography, but not beyond politics. The unspeakable suffering was not the result of one of Africa’s natural disasters. Here was not nature’s pruning fork at work but the outcome of men’s evil desires. If I could, I would take this day out of my life, demolish the memory of it. But like memories of those haunting pictures of the Nazi death camps, we cannot, must not be allowed to forget the appalling things we are all capable of doing to our fellow human beings. The photograph I took of the little albino boy must remain engraved on the minds of all who see it.


The other Mc that recently came crashing to my attention is the Magnum Photographer - Steve McCurry. Known especially for his photo and National Geographic cover of 'The Afghan Girl.' You all know what I'm talking about...
Perugia, where I am currently living, (bang in the middle of Italy) is exhibiting a huge collection of his works at the moment. Not only were the photos shocking, stunning and technologically brilliant - whoever did the curating deserves an Oscar. 
It is difficult to describe but I'll try. If you imagine you were lost in a 3 dimensional fine wire web - it was somewhat like that.  Maybe Indiana Jones stylee – minus the foliage. The lighting and means of hanging the photos was a work of art in itself. There was a very structural quality about it and no planned route or order to the photographs. Pictures were displayed, hanging and held between weighted wires at different levels so you almost felt you were ducking and diving around to see each angle and each side of the photographs. 
Sadly it all ends this Friday but if you get a chance to see any of his stuff anywhere - it's worth the £5 or so to do it.

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