Photography Is the Only Art Form That We All Do

Interview with Martin Parr

Doi: https://doi.org/10.47659/m5.024.int

Martin Parr (1952) is considered to be one of the most iconic and influential photographers of his generation. Parr, whom obtained a photography degree at Manchester Polytechnic (1970–1973), joined the classics of British documentary photography with a series of black and white photographs of the disappearing folk customs of Northern England. In the 80s he managed to make his breakthrough to the global photography scene (and market). At that time, impressed by American colour photography, he took on photographing on colour film himself. He made The Last Resort (1983–1985), a series of British working class while spending holidays in a coastal resort in New Brighton, which remains one of his most recognizable work to this day. After its first presentation in the Serpentine Gallery in London in 1986, the project triggered turbulence and division of opinions of both professionals and general public. Polarization of opinions became a constant in Parr’s photography career. The polemics he caused by first becoming a member (1994) and then the president of Magnum Photos (2013–2017) are well known. The critics castigated Parr for being cruel and voyeuristic, and that he claimed to only be photographing what he sees, while he benefited from making a mockery of others. His unconventional use of the medium, smooth traversing through different contexts of photography and flirting with obvious commercial interests was deemed controversial and questionable by many (until today).

Martin Parr (1952) is considered to be one of the most iconic and influential photographers of his generation. Parr, whom obtained a photography degree at Manchester Polytechnic (1970–1973), joined the classics of British documentary photography with a series of black and white photographs of the disappearing folk customs of Northern England. In the 80s he managed to make his breakthrough to the global photography scene (and market). At that time, impressed by American colour photography, he took on photographing on colour film himself. He made The Last Resort (1983–1985), a series of British working class while spending holidays in a coastal resort in New Brighton, which remains one of his most recognizable work to this day. After its first presentation in the Serpentine Gallery in London in 1986, the project triggered turbulence and division of opinions of both professionals and general public. Polarization of opinions became a constant in Parr’s photography career. The polemics he caused by first becoming a member (1994) and then the president of Magnum Photos (2013–2017) are well known. The critics castigated Parr for being cruel and voyeuristic, and that he claimed to only be photographing what he sees, while he benefited from making a mockery of others. His unconventional use of the medium, smooth traversing through different contexts of photography and flirting with obvious commercial interests was deemed controversial and questionable by many (until today).

Martin Parr (1952) is considered to be one of the most iconic and influential photographers of his generation. Parr, whom obtained a photography degree at Manchester Polytechnic (1970–1973), joined the classics of British documentary photography with a series of black and white photographs of the disappearing folk customs of Northern England. In the 80s he managed to make his breakthrough to the global photography scene (and market). At that time, impressed by American colour photography, he took on photographing on colour film himself. He made The Last Resort (1983–1985), a series of British working class while spending holidays in a coastal resort in New Brighton, which remains one of his most recognizable work to this day. After its first presentation in the Serpentine Gallery in London in 1986, the project triggered turbulence and division of opinions of both professionals and general public. Polarization of opinions became a constant in Parr’s photography career. The polemics he caused by first becoming a member (1994) and then the president of Magnum Photos (2013–2017) are well known. The critics castigated Parr for being cruel and voyeuristic, and that he claimed to only be photographing what he sees, while he benefited from making a mockery of others. His unconventional use of the medium, smooth traversing through different contexts of photography and flirting with obvious commercial interests was deemed controversial and questionable by many (until today).

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The problem is that photography is very glamorous and people think it is a shortcut to produce work.
Reading Time: 11 minutes
Reading Time: 11 minutes
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