When I was looking through the list of street photographers I knew I wanted one thing, at least one of them would be an English photographer and hopefully still working. A photographer with a body of work called “Think Of England” (Magnum photos, 2014), and has also produced a photo set called Black Country Stories. Martin Parr fits the bill perfectly.
Martin Parr is a chronicler of our age. In the face of the constantly growing flood of images released by the media, his photographs offer us the opportunity to see the world from his unique perspective (Weski, 2013).
Martin was born in Epsom Surry in 1952 and encouraged by his grandfather, George Parr, developed an early interest in medium format photography. Aged 18 he studied photography at Manchester Polytechnic for three years. Martin actually got bored with the course and decided to work on his own projects. He was initially influenced by the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Bill Brandt but it was during his time at college that he came into contact with Bill Jay who introduced him to the work of Tony Ray-Jones that gave him the direction he needed in photography.
His early work was predominantly black and white and was shot for the most part on a Leica M3 with a 35mm lens. In 1982, after seeing work from photographers such as Joel Meyerowitz & Stephen Shore, he switched to using colour film stock. Since 2006 Martin started using digital and of writing has a Canon 5D3. He also owns a Speedlight and a ring flash. He also often employs a Gary Fong diffuser. Even when shooting digital he does not use Photoshop preferring to capture it naturally in camera.
In 1990 Martin travelled to Japan and has been back almost every year since. During one of his visits (1998) he photographed sleeping commuters (Magnum photos, 2014b). As well as street photography he is also regularly commissioned for fashion work.
In 2010 Martin was invited by Emma Chetcuti to photograph the Black Country (Sandwell). Martin had regularly passed the area on his travels around the country but had never photographed in this area so he accepted the request. Initially he expected to find a lot of run down decaying buildings, but was amazed to see that there was, in fact, a lot of regeneration in the area. This body of work shows people of the Black country at work, at play and taking part in religious events.
As a Magnum Photographer, you can view a lot of his work on the Magnum site, click here to go to the site.
Currently, he is working on a book all about Oxford University, alongside a book on his Scottish work. They are both expected to be released Autumn 2017.