If you’re looking for the best Martin Parr quotes, then you’ve come to the right place.
Below, we’ve listed 40 of the best quotes from the legendary documentary photographer, which are sure to inspire, motivate, and help take your photography to the next level.
For over 50 years Parr has been capturing the quirkiness and beauty in everyday life. He is known for his candid photography, which he believes “adds an extra dimension” to his work.
His photographs are instantly recognizable for their use of color, and witty style that is compellingly beautiful and subtly humorous.
Parr himself defines his photography as “a mixture of documentary observation and staged comment.”
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Martin Parr Quotes
From the moment the tourist enters the site, everyone has to be photographed in front of every feature of note… The photographic record of the visit has almost destroyed the very notion of actually looking.
Photography is the simplest thing in the world, but it is incredibly complicated to make it really work.
I accept that all photography is voyeuristic and exploitative, and obviously I live with my own guilt and conscience. It’s part of the test and I don’t have a problem with it.
All types of photography are important. For me, vernacular photography is essential as it provides a record of a moment, of important events in peoples’ lives, whereas many documentary or artistic photos are produced for a specific purpose. There is an urgency in vernacular photography that you don’t necessarily feel in professional photography.
Fashion pictures show people looking glamorous. Travel pictures show a place looking at its best, nothing to do with the reality. In the cookery pages, the food always looks amazing, right? Most of the pictures we consume are propaganda.
When a mother takes pictures of her children on the beach, she doesn’t take herself for an artist; she does it for love, which is an excellent reason, from my point of view.
Everyone is a photographer now, remember. That’s the great thing about photography.
Quotes on Photography Style
I am what I photograph.
With photography, I like to create a fiction out of reality. I try and do this by taking society’s natural prejudice and giving this a twist.
My black-and-white work is more of a celebration, and the color work became more of a critique of society.
We are drowning in images. Photography is used as a propaganda tool, which serves to sell products and ideas. I use the same approach to show aspects of reality.
My photography is an observation of the western world’s middle classes and their endless quest for material abundance.
The fundamental thing I’m exploring constantly is the difference between the mythology of the place and the reality of it… 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.
It is part of my agenda to take photos that can fit into all the outlets for photography, from the gallery wall to the magazine or newspaper page. That, to me, is using photography at its best.
Part of the role of photography is to exaggerate, and that is an aspect that I have to puncture. I do that by showing the world as I really find it.
Finding your Subjects
What interests me most is to take pictures of things people don’t really care about.
I try to photograph my own and society’s hypocrisy.
The idea of England in decline is very attractive.
If there is any jarring at all in my photographs, it’s because we are so used to ingesting pictures of everywhere looking beautiful.
I looked around at what my colleagues were doing, and asked myself, “What relationship has it with what’s going on?” I found there was a great distortion of contemporary life. Photographers were interested only in certain things. A visually interesting place, people who were either very rich or very poor, and nostalgia.
I am only photographing what is obvious, and part of my way of working is to tap into people’s prejudices and depict all aspects of things happening in today’s society. I give people an opportunity to air their prejudices, and if they want to say the working class is scruffy and dirty, then the pictures exist to illustrate that thesis.
Photography is, by its nature, exploitative. It’s whether you use this process with a sense of responsibility or not. I feel that I do so. My conscience is clear.
I often think of what I photograph as a soap opera, where I am waiting for the right cast to fall into place.
Quotes on Photography Technique
I go straight in very close to people and I do that because it’s the only way you can get the picture. You go right up to them. Even now, I don’t find it easy. I don’t announce it. I pretend to be focusing elsewhere. If you take someone’s photograph it is very difficult not to look at them just after. But it’s the one thing that gives the game away. I don’t try and hide what I’m doing – that would be folly.
When I first started learning how to take photographs, you had to spend the first six months figuring out what an f-stop was. Now you just go and take pictures. Nobody thinks about technical issues anymore because cameras or camera phones take care of that automatically.
I see things going on before my eyes and I photograph them as they are, without trying to change them. I don’t warn people beforehand. That’s why I’m a chronicler. I speak about us and I speak about myself.
I love playing the game of fashion photography without knowing what the rules are.
Martin Parr’s Tips for Better Photography
You have to take a lot of bad pictures. Dont’ be afraid to take bad pictures… You have to take a lot of bad pictures in order to know when you’ve got a good one.
The easy bit is picking up a camera and pointing and shooting. But then you have to decide what it is you’re trying to say and express.
Unless it hurts, unless there’s some vulnerability there, I don’t think you’re going to get good photographs.
Find something you are passionate about and shoot your way through this obsession with elegance and you will have a potentially great project.
Get out there and do it. If it’s good, it will be seen. There is no such thing as a brilliant new contemporary photographer who is undiscovered.
What’s your Favorite Martin Parr Quote?
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To see more of Martin Parr‘s photography, check out his image archive on Magnum Photos website.
Looking for more words of wisdom from master photographers? Check out the quotes section of Photogpedia for more great photography quotes.
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