“You are probably going to fail, so unless you are obsessed, almost like a disease, you are not going to make it.” Legendary Martin Parr, regarded as the most crucial figure in contemporary British photography, offers advice to young photographers.
Martin Parr is a British photographer known for his colorful, often humorous, and often critical photographs of modern society. Born in Surrey, England in 1952, Parr studied photography at Manchester Polytechnic before embarking on a career that has spanned more than four decades.
Throughout his career, Parr has focused on capturing the everyday world around him, using his camera to document the people, places, and objects that are often overlooked or ignored. His work is characterized by its bright colors, bold compositions, and sharp humor, as well as its critique of consumerism, globalization, and other social and cultural trends.
One of Parr’s most notable books is “The Last Resort,” a series of photographs taken in the seaside town of New Brighton in the early 1980s. The book captures the faded glory of the British seaside resort, depicting working-class families enjoying their summer holidays against a backdrop of tacky amusement arcades, dilapidated buildings, and overcast skies. The book was controversial when it was first published, with some critics accusing Parr of being condescending towards his subjects. However, it has since been recognized as a classic of British documentary photography.
Another significant book in Parr’s oeuvre is “Common Sense,” a collection of photographs taken across the UK in the 1990s. The book showcases Parr’s distinctive style, featuring images of everything from food to fashion, from supermarkets to street parties. Through his lens, Parr captures the contradictions and absurdities of modern life, while also celebrating the everyday moments that make it worth living.
Parr’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions and retrospectives, including a major retrospective at the Barbican Art Gallery in London in 2002. He has also been honored with numerous awards, including the Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal and the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.
In addition to his photographic work, Parr has also been a prominent collector of photography, amassing a vast collection of vernacular photographs and other ephemera. In 2017, he opened the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol, England, as a space to showcase his own work as well as the work of other photographers.
The Martin Parr Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports and promotes photography in all its forms. The foundation includes a gallery, a library, and a studio, and hosts regular exhibitions, talks, and workshops. The foundation’s mission is to celebrate the diversity and richness of photography, while also providing a space for emerging photographers to develop their skills and showcase their work.
In addition to his own work and the work of other photographers, the Martin Parr Foundation also houses Parr’s extensive collection of photographic books and other publications. The collection includes rare and out-of-print books, as well as more contemporary works, and is one of the most comprehensive collections of photography books in the world.
The Martin Parr Foundation has quickly established itself as a vital center for photography in the UK, hosting exhibitions and events that celebrate the diversity and vitality of the medium. The foundation is a testament to Parr’s ongoing commitment to the art of photography and his desire to share his passion with others.
Overall, Martin Parr’s work as a photographer and his establishment of the Martin Parr Foundation have made a significant contribution to the world of photography. His distinctive style and critical eye have inspired countless photographers around the world, while his foundation has helped to support and promote the medium of photography in all its forms. As he continues to document the world around him, Parr’s legacy as one of the most influential photographers of his generation is sure to endure.