Martin Parr’s been in the game for over 40 years, and in that time has pioneered a completely new approach to documentary photography.
The British photographer has just been awarded the World Photography Organisation’s ‘Oustanding Contribution to Photography Award.’ It’s an accolade that’s pretty fitting for such an iconic photographer, but in the man himself’s words, “If I knew how to take a great photo, I would stop.”
Martin grew up with parents who enjoyed bird-watching, which is possibly where his innate curiosity and love of people watching came from. He developed a love for photography when he was a teenager, and shot almost exclusively in black and white photography before transitioning to colour in the 1980’s. It’s then he developed his signature style of using flash photography during the day, which created a hyper-realistic aesthetic. His work has always centred around the observation of people around him, particularly in working class British settings.
His renowned series, Last Resort captured the working class culture of people holidaying in Liverpool, and to many was an uncomfortable view of reality. As art critic David Lee explains it, “They appear fat, simple, styleless, tediously conformist and unable to assert any individual identity. They wear cheap flashy clothes and in true conservative fashion are resigned to their meager lot.’ Martin’s work is a humorous and revealing look at consumption, the tourism industry and the way the lower class spend their leisure time.