Martin Parr on curating the Brighton Photo Biennial

The distinguished Magnum photographer says you should visit the creative city by the sea

The Brighton Photo Biennial only runs for one more week (until 14 November). Martin Parr, the curator of this year's event, says if you haven't been yet you really should visit the seaside city for some exciting new and established photographers' work.


Q: How have you curated this year's Brighton Photo Biennial?

I’ve travelled a lot to seek out and invite younger emerging photographers to present their work, who haven’t had a platform previously and who I felt were photographing the world in interesting ways.  I’ve also commissioned mid-generation photographers who I felt had the potential to fulfill a body of work for the occasion.


Q: The title of the biennial this year is 'New Documents'. Can you explain this idea?

It mostly stems from documentary work, I’m a little biased there, but different participants have interpreted it in many ways.


Q: There isn't long left now, but what have been highlights of the programme for you and what should someone who hasn't visited yet seek out?

I couldn’t possibly pick out my favourites!  They're all my favourites. 


Q: What would you like people to take away from the festival?

The excitement I feel from the work on show.


Q: The seaside city of Brighton seems like an appropriate place for you in view of your work and style of photography.  How does the city resonate for you?  

I love the seaside. Brighton is a great lively place, very buzzy. It’s London on sea.  Brighton is a very good audience for the biennial too, a very creative and culturally aware community.


Q: Looking back, how did you come to be a photographer and what have been the key moments and photographs in your development as a photographer?

I always wanted to be a photographer, from about the age of 13 or 14.  My grandfather was a photographer too; I suppose a lot of things came together for me with Common Places.


Q: How would you say your work has evolved over the years, in terms of your subjects and style?

I’ve gone from black and white to colour, to a more critical look, closer in and further away again. 


Q: How do you find the digital revolution has impacted on photography?

I think it’s been very positive.  I’m excited by developments.



Q: What’s your view of today’s photography community and state of the creative industry at large?

I’m very excited by it.  We’re a growing community.  Everyone’s a photographer which is a good thing.  It’s about the audience level for it which is increasing with things like flickr and blurb. The quality of all that work might be weaker but that only means you can pick out the  quality – though that’s something I’ve always felt able to do.  The UK is lagging behind countries like France and of course the States in terms of photography’s representation in the establishment, but now places like the Tate have photography curators which is a good sign.


Q: What’s your advice for aspiring photographers?

Work hard and connect with you subject - that is, in everyway, emotionally and spiritually.


Martin Parr, thank you.