alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Somerset in winter – a nod to the work of Don McCullin

A recent day trip to Somerset gave me the opportunity to make this image of a quiet country lane, flanked by neatly trimmed hedgrows, the skeletal trees of winter and an overcast sky. I was instantly reminded of the landscape photographs by Sir Don McCullin CBE Hon.FRPS

Sir Don McCullin is a renowned British photojournalist arguably best known for his war photography and images of urban strife all of which are in black and white. A retropsective exhibition of his work has just opened at Tate Britain in London which I shall be visiting next month. It finishes on the 6th May.

He lives in Somerset in the West of England, and here Don McCullin has captured some dramatic, dark and moody images of the surrounding countryside; the place he calls home. The recent publication of a book simply called ‘The Landscape’ is a collection of his landscape pictures from both home and abroad. I have to say I am tempted to buy a copy, a temptation I suspect that will be hard to resist once I have visited his exhibition.

Another of his books which I may also consider buying is ‘This England’. I am sure both of these publications will be on sale at The Tate. When possible I do like to thumb through photography books before making a decision to purchase. They should be well produced and the photographs well printed. The book itself should offer longevity. Or in other words I want to be able to pick up the book time and time again and still enjoy what I am seeing.

I should just add that I am enthusiastic collector of photography books. Not the technical or instruction based publications (although I do have some of these) but the books of photographers whose work I admire and from whom I take inspiration. I can’t remember who said it, but I was told many years ago – ‘If you want to make better photographs, buy more books not more gear’. I agree.

I have been thinking recently that I might start to share my thoughts on this blog about some these books. Why do they occupy space on the shelf? Why do the photographers and their work particularly appeal to me? Do they stand the test of time or have my tastes changed? I hope you may find these future entries of interest.

In the meantime I think I will make a return journey to the county of Somerset, and in doing so take my inspirtaion from one of the finest photographers this country have ever produced.

7 Responses to “Somerset in winter – a nod to the work of Don McCullin”

  1. Vicki

    Your image of the country lane is just stunning.

    Like you I really enjoy looking at photography books – those of photographers I really like, but they are just sooooo expensive here in Australia….don’t know about the U.K. Living in a multi-cultural area as I do, the local library has absolutely nothing, so I am forced to browse for an hour or two in the city bookstore which has a few favourites (of mine).

    I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts of some of your favourite photographers and their images.

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    • alan frost

      Expensive here too Vicki, although shopping around online does help. Second hand books can be found more cheaply from online sites as well. These books are ‘treats’ to myself but over the years I seem to have accumalated quite a number although there will be many people who have much larger collections than I do. Pleased you like the photo. Thanks as always Alan.

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  2. David A Lockwood

    Book of all kinds have been the bête noire of every removal company that we have used over the years. Even moving from Oman, photography books being the biggest part of those I shipped back to the UK.
    Abe books is a bad site for me because I cannot resist the odd purchase.
    Will be looking forward to the posts.
    Don McCullin’s work has always interested me, saw a very good documentary about him and his work a few years ago were he talked about his landscape images.

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    • alan frost

      If ever we move the removal company won’t be thanking us either and its not just photo books that will be the problem!
      There was another documentary on McCullin called ‘Looking for England’ in the past couple of weeks – think its still on BBC iPlayer. Well worth watching.

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  3. LensScaper

    I like that image, Alan, and it does remind me of the under-stated images that McCullin has taken of Somerset. McCullin is on my list of exhibitions to see too, probably more than once. I heard McCulln in conversation with John Snow at the Frontline club a few years ago. A good evening although John spoke too much (typical)! I think McCullin has been one of the defining photographers of our generation, it’s time I bought a book!

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    • alan frost

      Thanks Andy. I have come to appreciate McCullin’s work as my interest in photography has grown and I agree with you he will, if he hasn’t already, become a defining photographer of our generation. Weighing up which book to buy…..may just have to buy them both! Also hope to visit the Diane Arbus exhibition as well.

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