Martin Parr is a contemporary British photographer. Best known as a chronicler of life in provincial England, his unconventional observation of human behaviours serves as a mirror to reflect society’s values. He thinks of his photography as an ongoing investigation of human interaction, leisure, and context. Parr is interested in how people live and present themselves to others, particularly in how they display their values.
His subjects have included the spectators of a championship polo game, everyday tourists and inhabitants of Switzerland, and goings-on at one of the oldest schools in England. He has a knack for capturing events that are both quirky and mundane, and in attitudes both critical and humorous. “Unless it hurts, unless there's some vulnerability there, I don't think you're going to get good photographs,” he has said.
Parr also has the unusual practice of presenting the same photographs in different contexts—as art objects or art books, as well as in advertisements and as editorial work. In recent years, Parr has become more interested in filmmaking, and has also been exploring different conventions of fashion photography. He became a member of the revered collective Magnum Photos in 1988 and has set up the Martin Parr foundation to support emerging, british photographers.
The National Portrait Gallery held a major exhibiton called 'Only Human,' in 2019, with a special focus on Parr’s wry observations of Britishness, exploring through a series of projects that investigate British identity today.