McCullin's period of National Service in the RAF saw him posted to the Canal Zone during the 1956 Suez Crisis, where he worked as a photographer's assistant. He failed to pass the written theory paper necessary to become a photographer in the RAF, and so spent his service in the darkroom.
In 1959, a photograph he took of a local London gang was published in The Observer.Between 1966 and 1984, he worked as an overseas correspondent for the Sunday Times Magazine, recording ecological and man-made catastrophes such as war-zones, amongst them Biafra, in 1968 and victims of the African AIDS epidemic. His hard-hitting coverage of the Vietnam War and the Northern Ireland conflict is particularly highly regarded.
McCullin's work was considered so powerful and evocative that in 1982 the British Government refused to grant him a press pass to cover the Falklands War.
In 1968, his Nikon camera stopped a bullet intended for him.
He is the author of a number of books, including The Palestinians (with Jonathan Dimbleby, 1980), Beirut: A City in Crisis (1983), and Don McCullin in Africa (2005). His book, Shaped by War (2010), was published to accompany a major retrospective exhibition at the Imperial War Museum North, Salford, England running from February to June 2010. The most recent title from McCullin is "Southern Frontiers: A Journey Across the Roman Empire", a poetic and contemplative study of selected Roman and pre-Roman ruins in North Africa and the Middle East.
McCullin received the World Press Photo Award in 1964 for his coverage of the war in Cyprus. In the same year he was awarded the Warsaw Gold Medal. In 1977, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, placing the letters 'FRPS' after his name. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bradford in 1993 and an honorary degree by the Open University in 1994.
He was granted the CBE in 1993, the first photojournalist to receive the honour.
McCullin was awarded the Cornell Capa Award in 2006.
On 4 December 2008, McCullin was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Gloucestershire in recognition of his lifetime's achievement in photojournalism.Family life
In later years, McCullin has turned to landscape and still-life works and taking commissioned portraits. Currently living in Somerset, he is married and has five children from this and earlier marriages.
* The Destruction Business. Open Gate Books. 1971. ISBN 0333130227.
* Is Anyone Taking Any Notice?. MIT Press. 1973.
* Anton Wallich-Clifford & Don McCullin (1974). No Fixed Abode. Macmillan.
* Homecoming. Macmillan. 1979.
* Jonathan Dimbleby & Don McCullin (1980). The Palestinians. Quartet Books. ISBN 0-7043-3322-8.
* Hearts of Darkness: Photographs by Don McCullin. Secker and Warburg. 1980.
* Don McCullin. (1983). Beirut: A City in Crisis. New English Library. ISBN 0450060373.
* Don McCullin. (1987). Perspectives. Harrap. ISBN 0245543686.
* Don McCullin ; introduction by John Fowles. (1989). Open Skies. Cape. ISBN 0224025392.
* Norman Lewis & Don McCullin (1993). An Empire of the East: Travels in Indonesia. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0224032305.
* introduction by Mark Haworth-Booth ; designed by David King. (1994). Sleeping with Ghosts: A Life's Work in Photography. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0224032410.
* Don McCullin ; (1999). India. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0224050893.
* Cold Heaven. Christian Aid. 2001. ISBN 0904379477.
* Don McCullin; with Lewis Chester. (2002). Unreasonable Behaviour: An Autobiography. Vintage. ISBN 0-09-943776-7.
* introduction by Harold Evans ; essay by Susan Sontag. (2003). Don McCullin. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-07118-1.
* Life Interrupted. Christian Aid. 2004. ISBN 0904379647.
* Don McCullin. (2005). Don McCullin in Africa. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-07514-4.
* Don McCullin (2007). Don McCullin in England. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 9780224078702.
* Don McCullin (2010). Shaped by War. Vintage. ISBN 9780224090261.
* Don McCullin (2010). Southern Frontiers: A Journey Across the Roman Empire. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 978-0224087087. photothessaloniki
American soldiers, near Checkpoint Charlie, at the time of the construction of the Berlin Wall, West Berlin, August 1961
A lone anti-war protester confronts police in Whitehall, London, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, London, 1962
All images © Don McCullin