flying with martin

Martin_parr

i suppose it is not so unlikely that I would , quite by accident , run into martin parr at the airport in London yesterday…after all, we were both headed for the Arles Photo Festival…

However, it was quite fortuitous to share an exit row seat (more leg room) for the hour and a half flight to the south of france with martin…particularly given the discussion going on in this forum now about “style”….martin parr personifies “style”…..so much so that he is one of the most “copied” photographers of our time…

martin is prolific to say the least…the man has 40 books…nobody has 40 books…while the rest of us are mulling over ideas, perhaps spending years shooting on a project, endless editing days, and with many projects ending up on the "back burner", parr just "does it"…he does not look back…he only moves forward…

martin says "this means not all things work out equally…some books are better than others…but i have a short attention span… two weeks is the most time i can stay in one place shooting"…

so, martin’s collected works become kind of a "sketchbook" or "diary" of the thinking process of an iconic photographer…in their "whole" lies the mind of an artist…

but martin is not only a photographer….he has become quite the curator, collector, writer and teacher…as a matter of fact, martin was a full time teacher long before he came into Magnum…

please post quickly any questions you may want to ask martin and I will try to pin him down here in Arles…..i have more to say about martin, but this keyboard is stuck in the french mode, and is not allowing me to write or think freely….

LATER:

ok, i found martin wandering the streets alone last night … he was kind enough to answer the first posted questions from you…so, go into "comments" and martin speaks…

Parr_windmil

45 Responses to “flying with martin”


  • Hi David,
    Hi Martin,

    does Martin also works with the digital L?

    Hope you’ll have a safety flight!

    (Sorry my bad english)

    jörg

  • “From all the images you’ve shot over the years, which have made it onto your walls at home?”

  • .. haha.. during Photomonth in Krakow, Poland i saw an exhibition with his strange portraits :-) and on your picture he looks as very normal, nice, smily person :-)

    i am curious to read more about him… at the beggining i didn’t like his pictures (sometimes they are too discusting to look at them ;-) … some fat food with bugs on it ;-) brrr…) but when i saw his works from 70′ and 80′ i started to like it… he seems to do very important “documentary” photography of current life.. i am sure after 10 years i will like his pics from today’s life…

  • Martin, when you were starting who did you look up to, in photography?

    There’s a big difference between having references and photographers/works one relates to, and actually making a copycat of a specific personal style. On the other hand, the fact that there are lots of Parr’s copycats only means that people feel very related with your solutions.

    Also, there’s a point in the progress of things when it is no longer a question of imitation but following a school. Can we talk of a “Parr school”? How would you define it?

  • Have fun there, guys.

  • Have fun there, guys.

  • Have fun there, guys.

  • Have fun there, guys.

  • i would like to know about Mr Parr’s work if her strong style isn’t sometimes a handicap to confrot some themes. I mean, people expect his photograps looks like Parr’s pictures and i’m questioning about if he had feel the needed of doing something completely different of what we’re used to see from his work.

  • Mr. Parr

    Two questions:

    You often use flash, but on your photos it looks like peoples as if they did not call attention (on beach for example). As if they did not know, but flash is visible. You ask them first and waiting as they will deal with themselves, or you shooting and then explain yourself? How you work with peoples?

    And second one: Your photography looks like play, not earn money. I know that you published many books. I’m curious, your photography looks that way (like without fetch make) because you have possibilities or because you convince many peoples to your work?

    I don’t know if this text is correct. I don’t speak English well…

    Martin

  • Q for Martin:

    Did people take to your photographs right away? or did it take awhile people to come around to appreciating your style of photography? And how did this apply to your supporting yourself as a photographer? ie did you have, or do you have, a different style that you apply to clients needs now or in the past?

    Thanks David. Thanks Martin.

    ~ Chris

  • I was always curious how people accept Martin Parr and let him shoot if they already know that he make ironic pictures…
    i suppose they don’t know much about his pics if they agree to be on pictures… :-)

    btw his “Tourism” is great! :-)

  • Martin:
    Have you ever considered yourself to be a comedian? Your work is pure comedy, and I mean that in a good way. I have literally belly laughed at some of your pictures. How much of yourself do you feel comes through in your work?

    Thanks

    Paul

  • Mr. Parr,

    Your “Last Resort” photos have a special nostalgic feel about them for me. They resemble remarkably a place I spent a good deal of my youth in summer. Ocean City, MD. U.S.A.

    Same people. Same “place.” Sad, humorous, pathetic, rough, tender, filthy, naive, worldly, gritty.

    Oh, the humanity!

    Brilliant. Thanks.

  • Thanks, David, for this opportunity.

    Hi Martin. Your photographs of daily life in the UK often remind me of when I first visited London and Brighton in 1975, just when I was beginning to take a greater interest in photography. Most nostalgic for me is (a) the shot of seagulls and chips and (b) a close up of a piece of colorful pastry. I don’t know why, but those photos remind me of that wonderful trip when I was 8 years old.

    What you see as the common theme of your photographic work?

    Thanks, Asher

  • Marti Parr’s style may be copied a lot, but so is the classic b&w tradition personified by Cartier-Bresson and taken further by Josef Koudelka. Within Magnum, obviously the Italians Pellegrin and Majoli have pushed this tradition even further. . . Yes, today, many young photographers have taken up medium format color. Where can we go from here?! Ultimately though, photographers define themselves through their subject matter, no?

  • David, as an aside, I’d be interested in knowing how you are making the switch to digital. . . shooting with the M8 etc.? . . . I am finding it both empowering and a bit annoying as well. There’s something about the ‘reality’ of film, the ease of editing, the ease of making a print and not having to deal with color management etc. I also specifically wonder what a purist like Josef Koudelka thinks of the technology?! In all the interviews I read about him I never see this issue mentioned. Obviously, he cherishes b&w film and of course his medium format panoramic cameras won’t be produced in a digital version. . . Yes, it’s just technology, but as a Leica M user, I suddeenly find myself not able to shoot Leica M digitally becayse I cannot afford the nearly $5000 M8. So, I am shooting with a Canon 5D–a real shock.

  • david alan harvey

    QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY MARTIN PARR

    (1) do you use digital???

    “yes, i use both analog and digital.. medium format film usually and 35 mm digital…

    (2) who did you look up to as an emerging photographer???

    “tony ray jones, robert frank and gary winogrand”

    (3)what pictures do you have on your walls??

    “none of my own. on my living room wall hangs a photograph by mexican photographer graciela iterbide and a commemorative plate with a picture of “belka”, the first dog that flew into outer space.”

    (4)are you a comedian by nature??

    “yes, sometimes.. but mostly i see myself as a satirist who uses irony”

    (5)will you change your style??

    “i might fine tune it a bit… but my whole thing is to photograph consumerism using the language of commercial photograpy. i am a commercial photographer”

  • hi David, Just want to clarify a few points.
    Many photographers have done more books than me, Araki has produced over 300.
    Sometimes I can do a book very quickly, I did The Parrjective project in 4 days in Istanbul, while it has taken me 5 years to accumulate the 41 countries that I wanted to include in the Parking Space project.
    I enjoy the process of curating and editing as there are so many good projects and books out there that have been overlooked by the larger photography community.
    I am now back home so enjoy the rest of the fetival, which is always a very pleasant way to spend a few days soaking up photography.

  • nice to see you here! :-)
    Hope you will come back sometimes :-)

  • David,

    It’s really nice to have Martin chime in here! I wonder if other photographer friends might sometimes as well?!

    p.s. Martin: I am really enjoying “The Photobook: A History volume II”

    Best wishes,

    Davin

  • Dear David,

    It is my first post after several months of following silently the discussions on various topics. I am writingto you from Bermuda where I Have been leaing with family for the past 6 years.

    I have accumulated a number of questions I wanted to ask you. Thanks for this opportunity to exchange ideas with you. I welcomem evribody comments as well.

    1-On the magnum website, I noticed that there is a “moving” section where pictures are presented by a photographer on a story, and the pictures are completed by sound, music and comments. My question: how efficient is a picture alone (without the sound or comments) in showing a subject?

    2-I saw several of your pictures where the horizon is tilted. Giles Peress does this as well. My question: is it something you do on purpose, or is it intuitive? And what are you trying to convey?

    3- I am not a pro photog but I use the camera a lot. I asked myself sevral times why I am photographing: is it because I am interested by the subject (people or ocean …) or is it because I want to take note of my own presence in this world… so I guess my question is:why do you take pictures?

    4- As I said earlier, I have ben leaving in Bermuda for the past 6 years, and that is just now that I start to understand (really understand) the culture and teh complexity of the community here. My question: how does a photog that goes for few months (sevaral times maybe and over many years) can get a deep understanding of teh place he/she is photographing. It is like attnding a diner with another family: can I understand the complexity of the relationship of the members of this familiy after going to one or even several dinners?

    5- I saw a documentary on you, where you where holding a camera in hand and a flash in the other hand. My assumption is that your subject were aware of your presence? Are you not afraid that teh subject will “act”, knowing that you are there? in other words, are you impacting the beahvior of the subject by being there so present?

    I have many other questions but I don’t want to bother you and the group as well. Thanks for your work,

    Arie

  • Dear David,

    It is my first post after several months of following silently the discussions on various topics. I am writingto you from Bermuda where I Have been leaing with family for the past 6 years.

    I have accumulated a number of questions I wanted to ask you. Thanks for this opportunity to exchange ideas with you. I welcomem evribody comments as well.

    1-On the magnum website, I noticed that there is a “moving” section where pictures are presented by a photographer on a story, and the pictures are completed by sound, music and comments. My question: how efficient is a picture alone (without the sound or comments) in showing a subject?

    2-I saw several of your pictures where the horizon is tilted. Giles Peress does this as well. My question: is it something you do on purpose, or is it intuitive? And what are you trying to convey?

    3- I am not a pro photog but I use the camera a lot. I asked myself sevral times why I am photographing: is it because I am interested by the subject (people or ocean …) or is it because I want to take note of my own presence in this world… so I guess my question is:why do you take pictures?

    4- As I said earlier, I have ben leaving in Bermuda for the past 6 years, and that is just now that I start to understand (really understand) the culture and teh complexity of the community here. My question: how does a photog that goes for few months (sevaral times maybe and over many years) can get a deep understanding of teh place he/she is photographing. It is like attnding a diner with another family: can I understand the complexity of the relationship of the members of this familiy after going to one or even several dinners?

    5- I saw a documentary on you, where you where holding a camera in hand and a flash in the other hand. My assumption is that your subject were aware of your presence? Are you not afraid that teh subject will “act”, knowing that you are there? in other words, are you impacting the beahvior of the subject by being there so present?

    I have many other questions but I don’t want to bother you and the group as well. Thanks for your work,

    Arie

  • Sorry for bad typing, so much to write and it is 12:00 AM here! wife is sleeping, dog is sleeping and I thought it was a good time to connect with you all.

    Good night,

    Arie

  • david alan harvey

    dear all…

    i had meant to mention the “Parking Spaces” project by martin….while it did take martin parr 5 years to complete this project, since he depicts parking spaces all over the world , he was doing a multitude of other things in the meantime…

    martin did also answer one other question about being “unobtrusive” with his flash…he told me that he only shows the ones that look as if he were not there…he claims many other “misses”….

    but, my own opinion is this….martin is just not a threatening character….he is, after all, quite the english gentleman….he is kind..if anyone could pop off a flash in someones’s face while they were lying on a beach, it would be martin!!!

    i think most good “people photographers” are passive/aggressive…they know what they want, but they do not annoy the people they photograph…well, when i get back to new york, i will ask bruce gilden the same question!!!

    i would love to do more interviews or have quick conversations for you with my colleagues….it is just that this blog is a “one man band” and i simply have not quite enough time to do all that i would like to do…but, i will do my best…

    i want to answer all of your other questions and i will…i fly to london this afternoon, and will do so either tonight or tomorrow morning…

  • On this question of how visible one is when shooting people I have some observations.
    When I shoot people I appaear confident, I go round as I have the authority to shoot anything I like. I tend not to look at people after I have shot them, most photographers do look and this acts as an admission of guilt. However I am constantly watching out for the tell tale signs that someone is annoyed by being photographed. You sort of know who these people are through experience.You simply move on when tis happens. The outside appearance appears casual but my antenna are on full alert.

  • Mr. Parr

    Many thanks for answer. Of course I’m one of this photographers who do look after shooting, and feel guilty, ha ha…
    But not always…
    I carry away people soul…

    I hope you will visit us sometimes in free time.

    Martin

  • what a fantastic discution that is going on here! ;)

  • Hey David, thanks for pinning down Martin for those questions and answers! I guess I’ll have to peruse The Parrjective to see what can be done in less than a week (and cry) :-D

  • david alan harvey

    ari….

    i cannot think right off hand of a tilted horizon in my work and i make no conscious decision to either do it or not do it…i would never do it for “effect”…if it happens it is just because things are moving quickly and i compose spontaneously…i know some photogs use tilted horizons on purpose to create “tension” or drama of some kind, but mine are just either natural or accidental…honestly,i am still trying to remember a tilted horizon in my own work….?????

    most of the people i photograph are aware of my presence one way or another….unlike martin , i usually communicate with my subjects or even become totally involved in what they are doing….

    in the film you saw i think you are referring to people dancing in senegal and i was using an off camera flash…in this case, i was an invited guest to this ceremony…..in addition, they were so involved in their dancing and in the drumbeat , that my presence was either totally accepted or almost unnoticed….

    in other situations on the “street” i do work exactly like martin parr…. i also appear non-threatening and casual and seem to not be “working” at all….and as martin says “my antenna are on full alert”

    davin..

    i feel about the same as you regarding digi technology…

    it is empowers me and frees me when i am actually shooting..because i do not “panic” when i hit frame #30 as i do in film, i can really finish “an idea”…i can more go with the flow…

    but, the “back end” still scares me…the archiving seems “not quite right” no matter how much i have backed it up…

    and no matter how well you have set up a good search system , you still have to remember you took the picture in the first place…i shoot so many freestyle random pictures during the day and sometimes there is something i should print…but, i must remember two weeks later that i took it….with analog, there is always a box in the corner of the room that needs to be dealt with..it is visible…my clean desk with hard-drives all lined up does not compel me to go in and look back….

    however, for assignments and stories the digi is most the organized…

    koudelka will probably stick with film although he sure seemed impressed the other day when i showed him some pictures on the back of my camera in low light….i think he will stick with film for awhile anyway just because he is doing those panoramics which really do require a film camera….i cannot imagine joseph stitching digi pics together in photoshop…

    martin parr….

    thanks for dropping in on the discussion….and i am still anxious to get that poker game going….i need the money!!!

  • Hi,

    After reading one of the posts by Martin, I’m yet again confused about image rights etc . I’m sure you’ve answered this before. I’m about to start work on my first self assigned story (actually 2 combined). Martin said that he tends not to look at the people after he shoots them. Do you only need to get people to sign release forms if the materical is for commercial use?
    If anyone can help with this, I’d be grateful!!

  • david alan harvey

    steve…

    yes, that is basically true in most countries, but not all…france, for example, requires releases for all publication….you had better check country laws where you live….

    if you live in the u.s. and for most other countries, editorial publications, books and art prints do not require release…but advertising photos in every country do require releases for people and for property…

  • Thanks David,

    I’m going to be working in Spain, so I’ll look into it (not that I can see anything being published, it’s more an exercise to get me thinking in terms of “story”)

    Cheers

  • Davin asked about Martin’s digital equipment. Based on a comment on Alec’s site, it looks like Martin is using a Canon 5D for his digital work. Not that the 5D is better than the M8, it just suits Martin’s approach better. (Not unlike you, David, using your Nikons or your M8 depending on your immediate needs.)

    Thank you for keeping up your blog, David. I’m learning a lot. Also v interesting is that your and Alec’s blogs are a pretty accurate reflection of your photographic styles.

    A lot of what people are asking for here should really be on the Magnum blog, which seems to have lost its motor. Magnum would surely benefit from cultivating an interest in its photographers and their work. But for the Magnum blog to thrive it needs a full-time gardener, and perhaps a willingness to be a little less formal. It needn’t conflict with the InMotion site either. There is plenty of material for both sites.

    Still I’m rather grateful for the effort you and Alec and Martin put into everything (especially your photography).

  • Btw, about digital workflow and backups, esp while you’re on the road and working. You should consider using Amazon’s S3 service. It’s affordable (cheap even) and as long as you can get an Internet connection, you can back up your work securely (without shipping CDs and worrying about them getting lost or damaged in transit).

    There are desktop apps for both Windows and the Mac that make it very easy to use.

  • Many thanks David for all your answers! Lukasz makes a good point re: the Magnum blog although maybe some of the kinds of specific questions we are aksing you are indeed best suited for this, your own personal blog.

  • Hi David,

    In teh section “work in progrss”, I saw several pictures of yours where you seemed to have tilted your camera. That is why I asked my question.

    Thanks

    Arie

  • David…

    I wonder about new theme to discuss.
    About infection…
    Photoinfection…

    I’m just begin my photographic way. I don’t earn all money from photography. And of course I spend for that more I able to earn. My wife look at me with fear in eyes…
    But I’m infected, I can’t stop, and I won’t stop. I want be good, best, I want be photographer…
    I want walk through life in camera in hand. Just it…
    Everyday…

    But this is hard work, hard life for our families…
    Style of life..
    Style of earn money…
    Potential disaster…

    Maybe you remember time when you was sure your life path? Or maybe some story of your colleagues?
    You remember when you was infected?
    When first time burned this something in your eyes?
    This fever…
    This infection…

    This only thought…

    Martin

  • Davin, you’re right that this is the right place for questions about David and his relationships with other photographers etc.

    I meant questions where the subject is the other photographer and David would simply relay the questions and answers. That should be the task of the person running the Magnum blog. Dropping in here, seeing the questions, getting answers, and posting a link back to the answer. Well, that’s just my opinion – I can’t speak for anyone else.

  • david alan harvey

    the magnum blog is about to be revived…martin fuchs will be the new blogmeister….alec soth and i will both contribute to the magnum blog along with many other photographers…but, both alec and i will maintain our personal blogs as well….

  • Hi David. Regarding the digi comments above, I would love to know how you think the prints from the M8 compare to your film prints…

    Thanks,

    Asher

  • david alan harvey

    asher….

    i had a show in korea recently where i had inkjet prints from both my older scanned film work and original digi files side by side….honestly, i could not tell the difference…if anything, the digi files were better….however, there are all kinds of ways to compare….my cibachrome prints from kodachrome and velvia are still amazing in a way that inkjet prints could probably never be…

    my hip hop show consists of 44″ x 30″ prints from 6mp d70 files and they are stunning…i also had some 8 feet wide prints hanging from the ceiling and the quality of those were terrific also…i only have made a few m8 prints 44″ x 30″…for sure, quality is not an issue with digi…

    i saw some 4 feet wide prints at magnum london office the other day by mark power (8×10 film) and trent parke (35mm digi)…the look was different, but the quality was equal…they both were shot in different types of light , which would make a difference, but still hardly any noticeable difference…mark shot in flat light, while trent was shooting in contrasty light..

  • david alan harvey

    martin….

    i have only really been lucky about one thing in my life besides being blessed with a terrific family….this “infection” this “fever” you talk about has been with me since about 12 yrs old….i knew then i would spend my life with a camera in my hand….this knowledge has allowed me to overcome all the difficult parts of our craft and so many bumps in the road of life….i stayed focused….no doubts….clear…

    all of us are totally different in our life circumstances….we all have some good luck and some bad luck….but for those “infected with the fever”, there is always a way….just do not look for a “cure”….be prepared to suffer…..but, the way i have always looked at it is that suffering with a camera in your hand is nothing compared to suffering without a camera in your hand…

  • Yes…
    Wise your words.

    I talked with my wife on this theme today, because she see that I’m nerves last time. And first of all she don’t know she want full time photographer, all the time out home etc. But I’m ready. I’m sure my skills. Only good subject, and money for bills. We’ll see…
    Fever over scale..

    I wish you happy vacation!
    I will out of home more now too.

    Martin

  • This is a bit of an old thread, but I just wondered what is Trent Parke shooting with these days???

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