Don McCullin: ‘Photojournalism has had it. It’s all gone celebrity’

“Nobody wants to look at spreads of dying children. They want to see higher heels. It’s all gone celebrity, hasn’t it? Celebrity, looks, fashion. If I see another picture of Gwyneth Paltrow, I think I’ll put my head down the lavatory. Fake tans, Beckhams, Jamie Oliver. I can’t take any more of it. That’s why I’m going to Syria.” Don McCullin on photojournalism.

Stormbelt by Robert Leslie

Towards the end of my first year of business school, I started to think that I might not be able to find a Summer Internship. I remember sitting in my apartment, having a beer, and trying to figure out what I would do if that happened. Despite having not picked up a camera in years, I decided – over the course of a couple of beers – that I would get a 35mm camera, get in my car, and drive around America taking photos. It would be my last grand adventure (or maybe my first) and my great escape.

It didn’t happen, of course. I ended up getting an internship in the Strategic Planning team at Ameritech. I finished grad school, got a ‘real’ job, yada yada yada.

It’s one of the few regrets I have in my life.

Photographer Robert Leslie did exactly that, driving from Florida to the Pacific Ocean, photographing the America that he encountered. From the New York Times:

Taking off with an open mind, Mr. Leslie was eager to see how the narrative would unfurl before him. As he drove through the wasteland of foreclosures of Florida, however, or as he pushed along the impoverished Gulf of Mexico, razed by Hurricane Katrina, it became clear that the trip was a sort of tour of America’s woes.

“I didn’t go out to make this ironic look of America,” said Mr. Leslie, 50. “But it was pretty disheartening to find these things.”

That’s one of the hardest things I’ve found about photography. It makes you see things you didn’t necessarily want to see.

Maybe I’ll do that trip someday, but knowing me I doubt it.

> A Photographic Road Trip Through a Familiar Superpower, The New York Times