Martin Parr

Martin Parr is a British documentary photographer. His photographs contain an intimate and satirical twist to modern life. He particularly documents in social classes and also the wealth of western countries. Some of the well known projects that Martin has produced are, ‘The cost of living’ (1987-1989), ‘Small world’ (1987-1994) and ‘Common sense’ (1995-1999).

Martin has had over 40 books published and has also been featured in around 80 exhibitions in many countries.

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I came across one of these books ‘The last resort’ which I studied and are a series of forty photographs that were taken in New Brighton at a beach suburb of Liverpool. The photos were taken with a medium format camera and with a daylight flash. Martin Parr printed eleven images from ‘The last resort’ in large format edition of five for his 2002 retrospective at the Barbican Art Gallery, London.

The photographs Martin Parr took within this Album were taken between 1983 and 1985. They depict a seaside resort past its prime with attractions designed to appeal to an economically depressed working class society with overcrowded beaches, video arcades, beauty competitions, tea rooms and chip chops. The series was exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery, London and in 1986 was published as a book. By looking through his book I saw how Martin captures any unusual moment, this is something I want to put towards my shoots.

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After publishing these images in 1989, they divided both critics and audiences alike. Some saw it as the finest achievement to date of colour photography in Britain whilst others viewed it as an aberration. With the benefit of hindsight there is little doubt that it transformed documentary photography in Britain and places Martin amongst the world leading photographers. Martin Parr viewed the decaying holiday resort of Brighton and its holiday makers in a way that was new, unique and deeply disturbing. He also did this in colour, something which at the time was seen as revolutionary for documentary work. For some his camera seemed cold and cruel as it followed the working classes desperately pursuing their holiday dreams surrounded by dereliction, decay and wading through the endless detritus of a pollution society. Others felt it showed an affectionate, humorous and humanistic response from Martin himself.


Book: Martin Parr and Ian Walker.Dewi Lewis, revised edition (5 nov 2009).The last resort: Photographs of New Brighton Stockport.

Website: viewed 27/11/14