“Everyone thinks they are a photographer, right? You’ve got a digital camera, you take a few shots of the sunset, your cat and a set of railroad tracks. You carefully assess the scene, selecting the optimal angle to shoot, and then you proudly display the results on your Facebook account.””
Everyone thinks they are a photographer, right?
You’ve got a digital camera, you take a few shots of the sunset, your cat and a set of railroad tracks.
You carefully assess the scene, selecting the optimal angle to shoot, and then you proudly display the results on your Facebook account.
But what is it about some photographers that makes them a professional and not you?
Is it their subject matter?
Their expensive camera?
Their compositional sensibilities?
Their courage to show their work?
Sometimes it is a combination of all of these elements, but more often, it is their innate ability to present us with something new and interesting, allowing us to observe a person, object or setting in a new light.
For British photographer Martin Parr, it is his ability to take the ordinary and mundane and transform it into something with life and personality, almost always investing it with his keen sense of humor.
Parr, an internationally known and respected artist, visited Akron last week and give a lecture at the Akron Art Museum on Thursday to a packed auditorium of students, professors, professional artists, and community members.
During the lecture, Parr spoke openly about his career and experiences as an artist over the past 35 years.
His work centers mainly on the creation of Photo Books, each one with a specific theme or visual element.
For example, he devoted an entire book to photography in and around bad weather, apparently a common theme in British life.
Other examples of his work include books about different supermarkets throughout Europe, collections of photos about the manner in which people decorate their homes, a series on visually boring postcards, a book of photographs devoted to middle-class life and a project involving the nature of vacation resorts throughout the world.
Parr’s wit is perhaps best illustrated in his book
Boring Photographs in which he explores the visual make-up of a town fittingly called Boring, Oregon.
According to Parr, his job as a photographer is to create fiction out of reality.
His photographs are most certainly images of normal objects and situations one might encounter in real life, such as a storefront window, a parking space or a family on the beach.
But through his unique perspective and presentation of the scene, Parr is able to lend these scenes a sense of history, importance, and personality, however fictional they may be.
Perhaps even more humorous than his photographs is Parr’s own engaging personality and ability to look at his work with comical criticism.
At times he had the audience members laughing as if they were at a comedy club, and throughout the entire lecture a sense of eagerness and enthusiasm for Parr’s next story could be felt throughout the crowd
Tim Sturm, a University of Akron photography student, says, I really like how he takes boring objects and makes them interesting. It will definitely make me look at things more closely when I am taking my own photographs.
Akron photographer Andrew McCallister was equally delighted saying, It’s really great to have an internationally known artist like Martin Parr here in Akron. His work opened up a lot of new avenues for photography and validated new types of subject matter, kind of in the same way photography itself opened up new avenues in painting, since the emphasis no longer had to be on making something look as real as possible.
To check out more of Parr’s work, visit his Web site at: www.martinparr.com.