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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Martin Parr

Dates:  1952, 23 May -
Born:  UK, England, Surrey, Epson
Active:  Global
His use of color to capture the strangeness of English society in the 1980s was quite exceptional. He has become a trickster using his collections of boring postcards and self-portraits taken during his travels to explore diverse areas of early colour photography, vernacular images, objects that include photographs such as trays and popular culture at the same time as producing a remarkable work of his own.

Preparing biographies

Biography provided by Focal Press 
Parr has become the documentarian of Great Britainís middle class over the last three decades, working in black and white and color, publishing numerous books. Born in Upsum, England, he attended Manchester Polytechnic in the early 1970s. One of his first books was Bad Weather (1982), about the palpable curtain of mist, rain, and snow flurries that envelopes the British Isles; he purchased an underwater camera and flash attachment so he could defy the elements. Parr has been associated with Magnum since 1994. His newer work, almost always in super-saturated colors, takes stock of the public and semi-private life of the English; characters not so stodgy that they wonít tolerate his incessant picture snapping, not too removed from distant claims to royalty or a dukedom that they totally lose all pretense of having that stiff upper lip. In the sum of Parrís work we see an archive of things and people Aglaise ó fish and chips stands, New Brighton beach bathers, Tupperware parties, Tudor style suburbia, the horse and hunt crowd, Piccadilly punks, and shoppers. Visually, his images often provide looming close-ups of hands, arms, or advert signage against a middle ground populated by a dense assortment of figures on holiday or shopping at Ikea. He uses fill-flash in daylight to throw a democratized illumination into all the important crevices of each scene. Writer Susan Kismaric has said that Parrís off-beat reportage is in harmony with many British authors, like Jonathan Swift, who portrayed society with a tinge of dry humor. 
(Author: Ken White - Rochester Institute of Technology) 
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 

Further research

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Bill Jay
Martin Parr 
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

Visual indexes

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Internet biographies

Terms and Conditions

Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer. Go to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website

Internet resources

Terms and Conditions

Magnum Photos ... 
Probably the world‘s most famous photo agency for photojournalists. Use this site to access the portfolios, biographies of the many notable Magnum photographers. Where there are books by the photographers the website frequently includes the photographs used. 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Evans, Martin Marix (Executive ed.) 1995 Contemporary Photographers [Third Edition] (St. James Press - An International Thomson Publishing Company) [Expensive reference work but highly informative.] 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Martin Parr.] 
• Weaver, Mike (ed.) 1989 The Art of Photography 1839-1989 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press) p.464 [This exhibition catalogue is for the travelling exhibition that went to Houston, Canberra and London in 1989.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Bauret, Gabriel (ed. and text) 2001 Color Photography (New York: Assouline) [Includes example color photographs by Martin Parr] 
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