Martin Parr (1952), photographer.
Martin Parr is a British documentary photographer, photojournalist and photobook collector. He is known for his photographic projects that take an intimate, satirical and anthropological look at aspects of modern life, in particular documenting the social classes of England, and more broadly the wealth of the Western world. Since 1994, Parr has been a member of Magnum Photos. He has had around 40 solo photobooks published, and has featured in around 80 exhibitions worldwide – including the international touring exhibition ParrWorld, and a retrospective at the Barbican Arts Centre, London, in 2002.
Parr’s aesthetic is close-up, through use of a macro lens, and employing saturated colour, a result of either the type of film and/or use of a ring flash. This allows him to put his subjects “under the microscope” in their own environment, giving them space to expose their lives and values in ways that often involve inadvertent humour. His technique has been said to leave viewers with ambiguous emotional reactions, unsure whether to laugh or cry.
Parr has said of his photography: “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 is actually a lot going on that’s not sharply written in your face. If you want to read it you can read it.”