8th February 2019

No search for the Loch Ness Monster

I have recently been to Inverness, a city in the Scottish Highlands with Culloden Battlefield and Loch Ness nearby.  A city I have not been to for many years. The trip was not for anything special, a few days a way, but whilst there I came across an interview broadcast on BBC News, with Sir Don McCullin.  

A cottage on the Culloden Battlefield
©Timothy C Aikman

This British born photojournalist applauded worldwide for his images and is best known for his portrayal of war and urban life.  With a new exhibition at the London art gallery, Tate Britain, running from the 5th of February to the 6th of May, the images include many of his iconic war photographs; such as those taken in Vietnam, Northern Ireland and, more recently, Syria.

During the interview, he said: These images are not about changing the world, they are to say that this is wrong.  This statement intrigued me, as I believe that it is a point-of-view that photographers should remember.  Without trying to detract from Sir Don McCullin’s work, this reminded me of conversations I have encountered with idealistic photographers who took the view that their work will change the world.

Granted, you could analyse the quote in a manner that “…saying this is wrong” is a way of changing the world; and yes, photography can instil change, but great photography is not about the photographer. A flaw which some photographers seem to have.

For me, great photography helps to inspire change.  It can capture public attention, encourages us to question the world we encounter and can help to deepen our understanding of the world around us – and can help to provide an emotional connection to stories being portrayed.