Martin Parr is a British documentary photographer who totally changed the way we look at or make street photography today. He focuses not only on individuals, but on an entire set that is relevant to the culture and traditions of that place in general. He took time to observe mostly the contemporary Western society, but he got also to more distant places like Japan, Macchu Picchu, India, China, Argentina or Mexico. His approach is not only extremely funny, courageous and sarcastic, but also introspective and anthropological. At first, he wasn’t much appreciated for his critique over the British society, but his success came in 1986, when he displayed Last Resort at Serpentine Gallery in London, when people could finally grasp his cynical view over the state of Britain. The exposition showed working class people at the seaside in nearby New Brighton and it was also consider it revolutionary for being caught on colored film.
In 1994, the famous Magnum agency founded by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, David Seymour and George Rodger in 1947, made him a full member.
In terms of Parr’s technique, he thinks his photographs as a context, rather than individual subjects or images. There is always more to it than a face or a situation, you have to look closely and you can find interesting details, some of them not always planned or looked for. This is why he is not afraid to go very close to his subjects, it’s the detail within the detail that we like to discover, right? Another belief of Parr’s is that photography is never objective, it is definitely subjective, this is why he tends to exaggerate and make a freestanding story out of an ordinary image.
Here are a few of my favorites, but make sure you to take some time to discover his incredible work.
Sources: martinparr.com, magnumphotos.com.