Martin Parr is as intimidating as a talented, creative person can gets; not because he acts a certain way, but more so because of a heavy CV. Portraying works from all different genres that vary from photography, to curation, to film, Parr is a man who has turned his curiosity into a living in the most artistic way possible.
Spending his childhood in a mundane environment, Parr’s early years created ideal grounds for his success in the business: “I was brought up in a very dull area – in the suburbs of London – so I think the dullness of that made everywhere else look exciting. That helped me appreciate the world ‘out there.’ My grandfather was a photographer who got me excited about photography in the first place when I was a teenager – it was through him that I got the bug.”
The Magnum photographer’s unconventional portraits are highly up and personal while carrying many layers to observe. Although his nature is being a documentary photographer, he doesn’t shy away from other opportunities of the sector. “I do fashion, I do commercial things, I make films. I make all kinds of things really. My main preference is documentary photography, however I like trying other things too. Documentary photographs all have the potential to become a memorable images on their own anyway.” I wonder about his opinion on digital vs analog.
“I’ve never been a very fast converter, however now that the quality of cameras have improved so drastically in the last 10 years or so, I’m very happy with the outcome. It means I no longer have to wait to change film and I have no excuse to miss a good photo.”
Martin Parr’s passion for photography is undeniable. His fast pace of talking when it comes to speaking about photography reveals that his excitement for his profession hasn’t changed at all; in contrast, it has multiplied in years, photo shoots, and experiences. It’s almost as if one can tell that he’d rather be taking pictures as oppose to doing interviews about them.
For him, being good at this job goes hand in hand with being both talented and curious. “In order to be good at photography, you have to be observant to isolate things. So I guess I’d say you have to be a good observer as much as a good creator in this industry.” So then what makes an image beautiful for him? “Well I guess it needs to be strong graphically, has to have some kind of resonance, ambiguity and contradiction.”
Which is exactly what his pictures hold. Parr deals with how human beings interact, and reflects them in pictures that are critical as well as witty and quirky. While evoking memories using his unique perspective such as unexpected colors, frames and subjects, Parr’s series seems to speak to the subconscious. The daily events he captures on camera begin materializing all around you once you get used to what to look for.
What is his all-time favourite picture to look at? “I don’t have a single favourite picture, however bodies of work like The Non-Conformists and Last Resort to me are milestones of my career.” Garry Winogran is also on his list of photographers who inspire him.
As for the next couple of months, it seems like Parr is about to have his hands full with things other than his beloved camera like new shows in Germany and Oxford. “There is always shows and book projects coming up around the world,” he says; the man has no intention of giving up his passion, nor should he. His next book, titled “Makers of Todays’s İstanbul” in collaboration with Mavi will be released in May 2017. Seeing locals through Parr’s eyes will surely be a sight for sore eyes…