The one thing that makes Martin Parr put down his camera

The Magnum photographer discusses what does, and what doesn’t, make him click
Share
Martin Parr, Online dating profile picture, Hey Saturday, London, England, 2016
Martin Parr, Online dating profile picture, Hey Saturday, London, England, 2016

Many of us recognise the elements that go into a Martin Parr photograph. The British photographer’s images are usually fun and colourful or often shot through with an acid wit. However, in a new interview with Digital Camera World, Parr says the things he really looks for in his viewfinder aren't bright colours or telling moments, but a strong visual design to bring harmony to the picture. “Finding a strong design to carry the image is the hardest part,” he says. “You have to make some order of our chaotic world.”

 

Durban July races, South Africa, 2005, by Martin Parr
Durban July races, South Africa, 2005, by Martin Parr
 

Once that’s in place, producing a sharp image in a fraction of a second has actually become easier, given advances in technology. “The quality of the digital files from a DSLR [digital single-reflex camera] these days is mind-blowing,” he says. “I am getting the same quality that I was from a medium-format camera in the analogue days.”

 

Preparing lobster pots, Newlyn Harbour, Cornwall, England, 2018, by Martin Parr
Preparing lobster pots, Newlyn Harbour, Cornwall, England, 2018, by Martin Parr

However, the Magnum photographer also acknowledges that technology has also brought about a greater need for good documentary photography. “We always need it as the world changes so fast,” he says, “and especially when it's not changing in a good way.”

 

Stone Cross Parade, St George’s Day, West Bromwich, the Black Country, England, 2017, by Martin Parr
Stone Cross Parade, St George’s Day, West Bromwich, the Black Country, England, 2017, by Martin Parr
 

Yet there remains one style of photography that Parr still finds eminently resistible. “A good walk in the beautiful countryside can make me leave my camera at home,” he reveals. Why? “I don't want to photograph landscapes!”

 

Signed copies of Only Human are currently available in our store

To see everything but landscapes, order a copy of Only Human. This new book on Martin Parr explores the photographer's most enduring subject – people – as never before. For a limited period you can buy signed editions in our store, here.


You May Also Like


Related





ABOUT PHAIDON

Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
Read more