Square Mile – looking for inspiration III

Interesting to compare Martin Parr’s New Brighton images with David Bailey’s East End and Jimmy Forsyth’s Scotswood Road.

I noted a paragraph in ‘The Genius of Photography (Badger 2010:162) commenting on Parr’s The Last Resort thus, ‘Photographs of screaming babies, children with ice cream on their faces, in a litter-strewn environment, led to Parr, a middle-class boy from Surrey, being accused of cynicism.’ I wondered whether there was a difference in approach between Parr, as an outside observer, and Bailey and Forsyth who were documenting their own environments.

Martin Parr

Unfortunately, the book was not available at the time of writing this entry. A full set of images (small reproductions only) can be found on the Magnum website at http://www.magnumphotos.com/Catalogue/Martin-Parr/1985/GB-New-Brighton-The-Last-Resort-NN147024.html (accessed 19 February 2016)

A summary and a criticism of one image can be found on the Tate website at http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/parr-the-last-resort-40-p11922/text-summary (accessed 19 February 2016)

Further commentary and some quotations from Parr himself at http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/8073/martin-parrs-last-resort (accessed 19 February 2016)

These images are shot between 1983 and 1985 on medium-format colour film, very saturated and using on-camera flash. Nearly all are people pictures. Most appear unposed, but Parr and his equipment can hardly have been inconspicuous.

I expect to revisit Parr in more detail in later assignments and later course modules.

David Bailey

There is a selection of East End images in Bailey’s Stardust (Bailey 2014:55-67)

We see grainy monochrome images from 1961 and 1962, showing mainly buildings (some still suffering war damage) with some people pictures, and  a group of semi-posed colour portraits shot for a Sunday Times Magazine feature in 1968

Jimmy Forsyth

See my previous blog posting at https://chasbedfordocablog.wordpress.com/2016/02/12/jimmy-forsyth/

Commentary

All three sets of images would fit the “Square Mile” brief. I felt a better sense of connection from the two ‘insiders’, Bailey and Forsyth, than from Parr who felt more like a fly-on-the-wall observer. The posed portraits by Bailey and Forsyth had an air of tolerance or indulgence by the subjects for the ‘local boy with a camera’. With the Parr images, I felt more like an intruder or voyeur.

Bibliography

Badger, G. (2010) The Genius of Photography, How photography has changed our lives. London: Quadrille

Bailey, D. (2014) Bailey’s Stardust. London: National Portrait Gallery

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