Martin Parr

Martin Parr
Martin parr
Born May 23, 1952
Epsom, Surrey, England, UK
Nationality English

Martin Parr is a famous British documentary photographer and photobook collector. He is best known for his photographic project that take a critical look at modern life, especially suburban life in England. He is also member of the Magnum Photos.

Early Life

Martin was born on May 23, 1952, in Epsom, Surrey. At first, he wanted to be a documentary photographer; this was influenced by his grandfather who was a photographer. Between 1970 and 1973, he went to Manchester Polytechnic to study photography. In 1980, he married his then-girlfriend, Susan Mitchell, and together they had one child in 1986. He has been living in Bristol since 1987.

Career Highlights

Martin Parr started his work as a photographer. He also taught photography starting in the mid-1970s. Martin was first recognized for his black-and-white photography in north England, but he later switched to color photography in 1984. The resulting work, entitled The Last Resort, was published in 1986. Martin has published about 50 books and featured in about 80 exhibitions worldwide.

In 2007, his very own retrospective exhibition was chosen to be at the main show at the Month of Photography Asia in Singapore. His approach to documentary photos is anthropological, intimate, and satirical. Martin Parr entered the homes of ordinary people and took pictures. He combined these pictures with quotes from the hosts to bring the viewers close to them. His technique left viewers with great emotional reactions in which they were not sure whether to cry or laugh.

Parr the Collector

Parr 2Apart from being a photographer, Martin was also a collector of cards, photos, and many other different items of vernacular and popular culture. Most of these collections have been widely used as basis for many publications. Since the 1970s, Martin collected and publicized the garish postcards that were made between the 1950s and the 1970s by John Hilde and his team.

The images by Hinde are a major influence on Martin’s color photography. As a great admirer of the medium, he published several photobooks and other works about photobooks. One of his photobooks, entitled A History, was published in two volumes and covers over 1,000 examples of different photobooks from the 19th century all through to present day. This work was in collaboration with Gerry Badger and took eight years to complete.

Parr as a Documentary Filmmaker

Martin’s first contact with medium film was during first collaboration with Mr. Barker between 1990 and 1992. He took pictures to accompany Barker’s film entitled Signs of Times. In 1997, Martin Parr started producing his own TV documentaries with Mosaic Film. Martin was also the cameraman on the film It’s Nice Up North. This was a comic documentary that was filmed over a few years in Shetland. It was released in 2006.

Awards and Honors

In 2008, Martin Parr was awarded the centenary Medal of Royal Photographic Society. This was in recognition of his significant contribution to art of photography. Today, Martin sees himself as a perfect middle-class pedigree. Apart from editorial projects, Martin also does photography for commerce. He has done fashion shots for the New York Times and other publications.