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Tag: Iraq

Don McCullin talks war and peace

Reading Time: 13 minutes An interview with Don McCullin is never going to be a dull affair – he is a complex man who has told the story of his life many times before. He is unfailingly polite and gentlemanly, but one detects a slightly weary tone as he goes over the familiar ground. He often pre-empts the questions with clinical self-awareness.

The story of McCullin’s rise from the impoverished backstreets of Finsbury Park in north London is one of fortuitous good luck, but it didn’t start out that way. Born in 1935, he was just 14 when his father died, after which he was brought up by his dominant, and sometimes violent, mother. During National Service with Britain’s Royal Air Force, he was posted to Suez, Kenya, Aden and Cyprus, gaining experience as a darkroom assistant. He bought a Rolleicord camera for £30 in Kenya, but pawned it when he returned home to England, and started to become a bit of a tearaway.

Redemption came when his mother redeemed the camera, and MccCullin started to take photographs of a local gang, The Guvners. One of the hoodlums killed a policeman, and McCullin was persuaded to show a group portrait of the gang to  The Observer. It published the photo, and kick-started a burgeoning career as a photographer for the  newspaper.

The founding father of Iraqi photography gets his first London show

Reading Time: 3 minutes “I lived there, I grew up there, and I loved it very much,” Latif Al Ani has said of his home, Baghdad. “All of it has been devastated, and most of it has vanished.” Known as the founding father of Iraqi photography, Al Ani captured the country in its cosmopolitan Golden Age from the late 1950s to the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980. Employed by the Iraqi Petroleum Company in the 1950s, he went on to found the photography department in the Iraqi government’s Ministry of Information and Guidance in 1960, and to become the head of photography at the Iraqi News Agency in the 1970s. 

Helping refugees starts in London with Giles Duley’s interactive exhibition

Reading Time: 7 minutes “The exhibition just becomes this transition point. There will be new artwork created by the exhibition. I think that’s exciting: it means it becomes alive. These often tragic stories will continue living in other forms, whether through painting or through music, so it’s about making the exhibition a place of life and a celebration of that life,” says Giles Duley, the photographer who has spent months travelling Europe and the Middle East to document the refugee crisis with UNHCR. Taking images from his photobook, I Can Only Tell You What I See, the display will feature artists in residence, a soundscape from Massive Attack and will host an evening supper so as visitors can sit and discuss the work and the wider problems surrounding the refugee crisis.

Photojournalism and responsibility in Jan Grarup’s epic new book

Reading Time: 9 minutes “I meet people with more empathy and more care towards one another in war situations or in conflict around the world than I have ever experienced in Europe. People want to share the little they have with me because I have talked to them and shown an interest in them,” says Jan Grarup. His work has taken him to the sites of the worst conflicts – from obvious examples such as Iraq and Iran, to forgotten areas like the Central African Republic. Each place he visits, he stays to learn about the culture and customs of the people before taking their photographs. In these places of despair and destruction, Grarup often finds hope and resilience. But the Western world needs to be more active and share the responsibility to help these regions return to a peaceful existence.

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