Martin Parr celebrates the everyday

by Elisa Routa

I love tourism. It’s my subject. It illustrates the contrast between myth and reality in interesting places.



Born in Surrey, UK in 1952, Martin Parr studied photography at Manchester Polytechnic in the 70s. Today, he’s considered to be one of Britain's greatest living photographers known for celebrating the everyday. 


Over the years, Parr has amassed a collection of images from Northern England to the Arab Emirates and Uruguay’s Punta del Este. « I like ordinary people», he said in an interview to The Spectator in a 2016. Waiting for a happy accident to happen, Martin Parr has always been fascinated by the banal and the disappointing. Since 1982, Magnum photographer’s work has been to « exaggerate reality », he explains. Using a ring flash around the lens as a way to remove shadows and objectify his subjects, Martin Parr has been shooting exclusively in colour. 


Colourful sun chairs, buoys, beach ashtrays, summer straw hats, excessive tan lines, wet crowds, red fingernails, overcrowded beaches, mosaics of towels, miniatures of the pope … A few years ago, Martin Parr captured the charm of Southern Italy. Commissioned by Naples’ Studio Trisorio, this series is described as a satire observing global tourism.


Inspired by Bill Brandt and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Parr dedicates his work to the boredom and the awfulness. Not so different from his pictures from the ‘Small World’ series first published in 1995, Parr explores the contrast between the reality and mythology of a tourist honey pot. « I love tourism. It’s my subject. It illustrates the contrast between myth and reality in interesting places. »


Tanned bodies in Sorrento, pastel color boats in Capri and on the Amalfi Coast, no beauty nor elegance, these images catalyse Parr’s work who's been focusing on photographing tourists for four decades. His 80 books, mostly self-published, gather collections of iconic photographic and video works.


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Follow Martin Parr's work on his website.



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