Martin Parr

"Remember I make serious photographs disguised as entertainment. That's part of my mantra. I make the pictures acceptable in order to find the audience but deep down there is actually a lot going on that's not sharply written in your face. If you want to read it you can read it."

Martin Parr is a British photographer who looks at modern life, in particular the social classes of England taking a satirical and intimate perspective to street and journalistic photography. One of his earliest projects, rural communities from 1975-1982 looked at what we know as traditionally British in and around the northern town of Hepden Bridge where he lived. From 1982 when Thatcher was elected Parr started using colour photography, to depict the effect on society that Thatcher had during her years as Priminister looking particularly at seaside scenes showing the chaos that had be brought on because of this change in society.

This photo in particular shows a scene at duty free at the time of Thatcher's England, showing the chaos in society it caused. The point of interest in this photo is this woman we can see in the centre desperate for a full trolley of beer. The way she looks is ridiculous in a way because her expression looks as if her life depends on getting these cases of cheap beer. This photo really reflect's the way Parr focuses on the working class in his photographs, and the way he represents these subjects in terms of how they often look unpleasant gives this impression that Parr very much looks down on these people, with the humorous and sometimes grotesque representations he creates of them. With Martin Parr being very middle class I do think he relishes in this prejudice perspective he has to create photographs with these themes. However I think he uses this satirical approach in his photography to engage people and communicate a much deeper message, especially in this photo for example as it represents a wider problem that was happening in the UK with the government at that time.

Above is a photo taken recently by Martin Parr in Hong Kong. It shows an observer at Happy Valley Race Course who is the point of interest in this photo. Parr has used a shallow depth of field to draw more focus to the foreground so our eyes are drawn more on this man in this busy environment. I like this photo a lot, particularly the composition which I think is very powerful in the way Parr has positioned his subject and framed him, allowing us not only to see the crowds of people behind him but also the huge skyscrapers in the background, which to me makes a comment on the modernisation of places like China which in the past 100 years have changed dramatically to become business and tourist capitals of the world. I also think Parr's use of anonymity is very powerful in commenting on globalisation, because it means as a viewer you have to read deeper into what is in the photo rather than just what the expressions on the people's faces are and what they look like. For example we can see that the main subject and someone behind him are both holding newspapers, which could represent the widespread media and information sharing that we have in a more modern and connected world, which global hubs like Hong Kong represent very well in themselves.

Taking inspiration from Parr's work in the eighties, looking at the working class in England and experimenting with the use of anonymity I went out and took some street photograph's around Hillsborough in Sheffield.

Personally I think the photo above was my most successful. I got closer to my subjects as I struggled to find confidence in doing so to begin with, and took a photo that communicates a very normal scene in England today of people piling onto a bus, making little effort to communicate with anyone around them which culturally we are very much known for our more passive nature compared to people from the USA for example. 

Overall I am not really happy with my first street photos as I don't think they represent my preferred style of photography at all. Through researching other photographers and going out and taking more photos I want to really build on my style and technique in this project and work out what I want to communicate through my street photography to create some work I am happy with.

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