091 - Martin Parr


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The man who the Daily Telegraph declared to be, “arguably Britain’s greatest living photographer” had a suburban childhood in the provincial county of Surrey, England, where his budding interest in the medium of photography was encouraged by his grandfather George Parr, himself a keen amateur photographer.

Martin went on to study photography at Manchester Polytechnic in the early 70s and since that time has worked on many, many photographic projects, publishing over 100 books of his own work and editing another 30. He has developed an international reputation for his innovative imagery, his oblique approach to social documentary, and his input to photographic culture within the UK and abroad.

In 1994 Martin became a full member of Magnum Photos, scraping in by a single vote, in the face of strong opposition to his inclusion from some of the old guard, including Philip Jones Griffiths and Henri Cartier Bresson himself. He has since become an important and influential Magnum Member where he served as President between 2013 and 2017.

Martin has also developed an interest in filmmaking, and has started to use his photography within different genres, such as fashion and advertising. In 2002 the Barbican Art Gallery and the National Media Museum initiated a large retrospective of Martin’s work and this exhibition toured Europe for the next 5 years.

Martin was Professor of Photography at The University of Wales Newport campus from 2004 to 2012 and Guest Artistic Director for the Arles photo festival in 2004. In 2006 he was awarded the Erich Salomon Prize and the resulting Assorted Cocktail show opened at Photokina and in 2008 was guest curator at New York Photo Festival.

Parrworld opened at Haus de Kunst, Munich, in 2008. The show exhibited Martin’s own collection of objects, postcards, photography prints by both British and International photographers, photo books and a new project from Parr entitled Luxury. The exhibition toured Europe for the following 2 years.

At PhotoEspana in 2008, Martin won the Baume et Mercier Award in recognition of his professional career and contributions to contemporary photography. He is co-author with Gerry Badger of the exhuastive three volume series The Photobook: A History. In March 2016 Strange and Familiar, curated by Parr, opened at the Barbican, London. The show examines how international photographers from 1930s onwards have photographed in the UK.

Martin was awarded the Sony World Photography Award for Outstanding Contribution to Photography in April 2017. In Autumn 2017 the Martin Parr Foundation - which is a gallery and archive dedicated to supporting and preserving the photographic legacy of not only Martin himself but also of photographers who made, and continue to make, important work focused on the British Isles - opened in Bristol.

Martin is currently working on an exhibition for the National Portrait Gallery which opens in March 2019.

In episode 091, Martin discusses, among other things:

  • The Foundation
  • The UK’s attitude towards photography
  • How his suburban childhood influenced his photography
  • Tony Ray Jones
  • Developing his distinctive colour style
  • The Last Resort
  • Being described as ‘an alien’ by Heni Cartier Bresson
  • Passing on 12,000 photobooks to Tate Modern
  • The health and future of Magnum Photos


Martin: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

MPF: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

“I’m pretty happy with the way it’s turned out, to be honest. I have to kick myself sometimes to realise I’m still earning a living from my hobby.”

110 episodes available. A new episode about every 14 days averaging 75 mins duration .