Friday, 20 April 2012

Martin Parr

Documentary photography has interested me probably more than any other genre. In looking for potential topics for the final assessment I have been looking at Martin Parr [1952 - ] an English photographer noted in The Photograph [1] by Graham Clarke. He is best known for his critical work looking at life in England with an emphasis on the social awareness of an image. He has tended to break the mould a little in producing a series of images for each topic that depict a social scene around the current attitude to life. This is an interesting concept in that the images not only document the moment in time but also the social awareness of that time.

I was particularly drawn to his book A to B [2], a collaborative piece of work with film maker Nick Barker, in which Parr took images of people with their cars in the early 1990's. This is about people with their prized possession, the car, and how it is a reflection of their own persona and how the car has become part of the social status of life. Some decorate the car personally, for others it is a workspace, but in all of them the subjects seem to be enjoying the moment of being with and driving their car. There are also several shots of single women, perhaps describing an inner portrait of their own self-image or freedom. So the car is therefore no longer an instrument to get from A to B, rather a social necessity and statement of who we are.

I really like his work, it is simple, has great colour and records a past era that I can recall in my early years of motoring, but it recalls more than just memories or cars and motoring but also the social awareness of the car.....

I have decided not to try and follow Parrs work here for now, I will revisit this for People and Places as I think it will be more suited here.

Look at me, an image of glamorous motoring
The car adorned with tokens of ownership
A formal family day out in the Mercedes. I love the yawning of the small boy
I like this image in that fact that the car has a higher status in this young man's life than his girlfriend resigned to the blurry back of the image.


[1] ISBN  789-0-19-284299-8 p.71-72
[2] ISBN 0 563 36984 1      

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