Chronicles of Parisian life in Paris, by Photographer Martin Parr
Since 1982, Maison Européenne de la Photographie has a tradition of giving carte blanche to the most renowned photographers, asking them to deliver their vision of Paris. This year it’s time for English photographer Martin Parr to get out in the streets in search of Parisian life, and so he does, armed with his unique mix of irony and humour.
A member of Magnum and a very productive documentary photographer, Martin Parr explores modern society through three main aspects: leisure, consumption and communication. His technique is easily recognizable: use of macro lens with a ring flash, getting extremely close to his subjects, saturated colors and often an exaggerated or even grotesque view of the situation reflect his vision of society, its interests and values. Faithful to this approach, Parr presents Paris, Parisians and visitors of the city in an original and witty way.
None of the key Parisian places or events escape his lens: fashion shows and Paris Plage, museums and the 14th of July celebrations, agricultural show and annual fairs, Notre Dame and Champs-Elysées, and of course the omnipresent tourists with their cameras and typical Parisian souvenirs sold on every corner. Nothing is staged, but the moments are utterly pure and researched, making a photographer with his ring flash almost invisible. He captures the scenes each of us has seen so many times, since this is everyday Paris, adding a pinch of humour or a dash of irony.
“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”, says Parr. Nothing is as simple as it seems: photographs that at the first glance may look as snapshots enlarged into big prints, use their simplicity as a disguise for a deeper meaning, a particular message the photographer is seeking to convey. This is Parr’s research on the globalization, our consumption and leisure habits, our values and our goals.
For those wanting to improve their photography, Parr offers a good learning point. His work is one of the best examples of applying the principle of asking oneself “what is my image about?” When looking at any of the given photographs, there is absolutely no doubt as to what the author was trying to say, since Parr does not shoot without having a clear idea of what he is trying to say, and he does it with a great mastery.
Martin Parr’s exhibit is to be seen with a sense of humour and self-criticism. He will entertain you, he’ll make you laugh, he’ll make you recognize yourself, whoever you are in Paris, and he’ll make you think and learn, too.
Saturday, 24 May 2014
La Maison Européenne de la Photographie
5/7 rue de Fourcy, 75004 Paris
Metro Saint Paul (line 1) or Pont Marie (line 7)
Open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 11 am to 8 pm
Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and on public holidays
About the Author
Nadia is passionate about the visual aspect of life and the personalities she meets along the way. Living in the heart of Paris, Nadia never stops exploring the City of Light through her camera and readily shares her knowledge and love for photography.