I wonder if we all have a photograph that stays with us through life. One that we see at a pivotal point in our cultural awareness, that we can never shake from our memory. One that moves us, maybe shocks us, appeals to us, talks to us and connects with us. A photograph that makes us go beneath the surface of the image. That makes us want to find out more. Perhaps about the photographer or the subject of the image, or both.
A photograph that we cannot shake, that keeps reappearing throughout our lives. Perhaps an image in which meaning changes as we grow older. One that we interpret from the perspective of the image first seen only to re-interpret over subsequent viewings. An image that questions our social, economic, or political understanding. One that questions our emotional or intellectual growth.
An image that may inspire us to become photographers showing us the way, or illustrate everything we do not want to do as a photographer. The photograph may be an image we love or one that we hate. It may be one that we admire or disrespect. It may be an image that forces us to absorb the technical knowledge that informed its creation or one that rejected all forms of technical achievement.
A commissioned image or a self-initiated image. A posed studio creation or a moment captured unexpectedly based purely on response.
In summary a photograph that stays with you.
I do and this is it. What’s yours?
Shell-shocked US marine, The Battle of Hue, Vietnam, February 1968.
Photograph: Don McCullin
You can read an interview with Don McCullin here:
© Grant Scott 2020
Grant Scott is the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, a working photographer, and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Focal Press 2014) and The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Focal Press 2015). His next book New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography was published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2019.