Martin Parr is a rarity among modern British photographers – he is the author of some remarkable works of social documentary and yet, attending one of his exhibitions, one rarely hears people talking about the formal qualities of that work. Forget about lines and shadow, tone or technique. You are more likely to hear hushed exclamations along the lines of “Oh, Brian, remember when your mother had that exact washing machine” or “that’s just like Auntie Nance’s teapot!” Parr has become a chronicler of the objects of British life and, since becoming a Magnum member (and, for a period until 2017, its president), an international artist’s cooperative co-founded by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa among others in 1947, has expanded his remit to capture the peculiarities of material cultures across the globe.
He is, then, more than just a photographer. He’s a filmmaker, collector, and a journalist. He is also a gifted satirist. He’s brave too. Few other photographers would take pictures of food and present them as a collection, as he did with his 2016 book Real Food.