“I looked around at what my colleagues were doing, and asked myself, ‘What relationship has it with what’s going on?’ I found there was a great distortion of contemporary life. Photographers were interested only in certain things. A visually interesting place, people who were either very rich or very poor, and nostalgia.” Martin Parr

Martin Parr's online dating portrait
Martin Parr, London, England 2016

Martin Parr, photographer

Martin Parr is a British photographer. His interest in it was encouraged by his grandfather, a serious amateur photographer and member of the Royal Photographic Society. From 1970-73 he studied photography at Manchester Polytechnic. After graduation, he did social and cultural documentary photography in the U.K. and internationally.

His worldwide reputation has grown due to his subversive, humorous way of portraying the human condition. English social classes are a favorite subject for Parr as is the wealth of the western world. Martin Parr is a combination of comic and anthropologist. He undermines and embraces his subjects in his compositions, paying close attention to design and saturated colors.

Parr’s career

His satirical view of his subjects made him stand apart from his colleagues at Magnum where he has been a full member since 1994. Some of his projects are “Rural Communities,” “The Last Resort,” “The Cost of Living,” ” Small World” and “Common Sense.” Most of these projects are printed in books. His current book count is more than 40.

Parr is involved in making television and documentary films. He uses his slanted style in fashion and advertising campaigns. There was a large retrospective of his work in 2002 at the Barbican Art Gallery that moved on to the National Museum in 2004. Parr became a Professor of Photography at the University of Wales. He received his appointment as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in 2005. 2008 saw him receive the Centenary Medal from the Royal Photographic Society and a Lifetime Achievement Award from PhotoEspaña. His photographs are in many museums around the world.

In Parr’s words

“The fundamental thing I’m exploring constantly is the difference between the mythology of the place and the reality of it … remember I make serious photographs disguised as entertainment. That’s part of my mantra. I make the pictures acceptable in order to find the audience but deep down there’s actually a lot going on that’s not sharply written in your face. If you want to read it, you can read it.”


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