Thursday, 1 November 2012

Mr Parr

My College was recently visited by renowned, and some may say eccentric, Martin Parr. Since starting on an academic route with my photography one of the things I have learnt to do is be observant, not only in the world around me, but what others are doing and have done. I think it's fair to say Mr Parr has had a love hate relationship with his contemporaries and the photography world in general.
Henri Cartier-Bresson even said he thought 'he comes from another planet!' But in his defence Parr said 'that doesn't mean to say he dislikes my work.

Parr began work as a professional photographer and has subsequently taught photography intermittently from the mid-1970s. He was first recognised for his black-and-white photography in the north of England, Bad Weather (1982) and A Fair Day (1984), but switched to colour photography in 1984. The resulting work, Last Resort: Photographs of New Brighton, was published in 1986. Since 1994, Parr has been a member of Magnum Photos. He has had almost 50 books published, and featured in around 80 exhibitions worldwide - including an exhibition at the Barbican Arts Centre, London. In 2007, his retrospective exhibition was selected to be the main show of Month of Photography Asia in Singapore. In 2008, he was made an Honorary Doctor of Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) in recognition for his ongoing contribution to photography and to MMU's School of Art. (Wikipedia 2012)

Personally, before meeting the man, I would say I found his work comforting to the point he can show people and objects for what, and who they really are. I know of one student who made it a point of not going to his lecture as they said 'I can't stand what he does with his photography, it's just not flattering...not one bit!' 

I asked Parr a question 'do you think people's perception of the camera has changed since you started out as a photographer?' I'm not sure I got the answer I wanted, as he focused on the ability to take pictures of naked children on a beach, and how that has changed. For me personally I take that as a 'given' in 2012. Is this justified, or just a sad reflection on society?

©2012Martin Parr Magnum Images

I googled, Martin, Parr, Children, Beach and couldn't find any of his 'controversial' children images from his Last Resort body of work, so I think that should be taken into consideration. 

Over the Summer I produced a body of work to be tuned into postcards. Although these were staged I wanted to try and capture the essence of Parr's work in a contemporary style. I was lucky enough to have won the Telegraph's Big Picture competition with one of them.

This is England ©2012Matt Elliott

After the lecture what I took away with me is Parr's honest approach to his art and no nonsense approach to answering questions! I'm sure he's heard it all before and has become very think skinned.

Paulina and Heather with Martin Parr ©2012 Matt Elliott