Photography studio, gallery and training complex

Magnum Photographer Arrested in Black Country!

On Tuesday I attended a lecture by one of (I reckon) the world’s most influential living photographers – Martin Parr – at the University of Wolverhampton. Parr has recently completed the first stage of a project documenting The Black Country in his own inimitable (though many try) style. The results of his forays into the wilds of Sandwell were exhibited at The Public, West Bromwich’s over-priced, over-ambitious and chronically under-utilised “white elephant” arts centre.

From The Black Country" by Martin Parr

During this very interesting lecture, Parr showed rarely-seen examples of his very early work, as well as his colection of Saddam Hussain watches(!) and spoke very candidly about his journey in photography. Here’s my favourite snippet of wisdom from the man…

When asked how much he cropped his images he said “I crop with my legs. That’s what they’re for”.

Parr made it quite clear that some of the images that he shot twenty or so years ago, such as those from “The Last Resort” about fading british seaside resorts, and especially those that feature children on the beach, he simply wouldn’t be allowed to shoot nowadays.

From "The Last Resort" by Martin Parr

I sneaked a bit of footage during the lecture where he explains this…

I asked him whether this had had an adverse effect on the way he works. He replied that (and I’m paraphrasing of course) that on the whole, people were still very amenable about being photographed in the street, although there was one incident while photographing “The Black Country” that he was arrested in Wednesbury for photographing in a public area where children were present. Parr was, obviously, well within his rights and was eventually “un-arrested” and given an apology.

So it seems that even famous Magnum photographers can fall foul of over-zealous public guardians. There’s hope for us all.

Martin Parr’s website

The Public


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