The quality of these black and white images is amazing. Often harrowing, the images of the body of a young boy being buried by his father are particularly disturbing. The dark tone of the subject matter is reflected by the method of printing the images; the sky detail is particularly impressive. Not all doom and gloom, but not for the faint hearted.
Don McCullin is without a doubt my favourite photographer and I have long admired his work which I became aware of through The Vietnam War and the early Sunday Times Magazine - both now having long moved on. It is, of course, his war and conflict photography for which he is famous and taking his style to the more peaceful India presents a great challenge. I guess the question is, has this worked? In India we see the usual McCullin style of dark, moody pictures forcing the viewer to look both closely for the detail and broadly for the effect. Equally, we look for the content and to a certain extent McCullin has had to search for this more so than the war pictures he has often been presented with, albeit that he had to put himself in that position to get them. And this shows. In the harrowing pictures of cholera victims, in the faces of death and refugees I see the McCullin moments, in some of the more everyday pictures I see the McCullin style but not the moment. But what I do see here is the transition that goes on to be more evident in the McCullin of today - pictures he now takes of Africa, Roman Empires and his home counties - and I think that this is the real strength of India. It is here that I see him coming to terms with himself after what must of been the hell of war for him and finding something that he may well be able to identify as peace. I spent a long time waiting to obtain this book - I don't know how I missed it in 1999 when it was first published - and brought my copy secondhand - it was worth every penny. I think it represents a period in McCullin's portfolio where he both let go and moved on, where he let go of the old McCullin and reached out to the new McCullin - it works.