Photographer Martin Parr: I take a lot of rubbish in pursuit of magic

October 1, 2014

Speaking last night, at a preview of a one-day exhibition called A Birds Eye View, Martin Parr was asked about the secret to a great photo.

The renowned Magnum photographer, who has published more than 80 books of his own work during a career spanning over four decades, replied: ‘If I knew that, I would write it down and sell it to your readers at Amateur Photographer.’

Parr said he probably shot around 3,000 images for the Birds Eye project, ‘most of which are rubbish’.

These were edited down to 30 for the show, at the Pics Gallery in London.

A great picture, he added, is where there is a story within the picture, combined with a genuine interest in the subjects.

But Parr suggested he still hasn’t found all the answers.

‘That’s why I’m still a photographer because, even though I’ve been taking photographs for over 45 years, I still don’t quite know how and when you get a good picture.

‘There’s a magic in photography that you have to sort of play to and it’s not so easy.

‘You have to take a lot of pictures. I take more bad pictures than anyone else in this room, if that’s any comfort to you…’

The photographer toured Britain, tasked by frozen-food maker Birds Eye with documenting the nation’s eating habits.

Some of Parr’s subjects were picked from winners of a competition run in The Guardian newspaper.

A Birds Eye View is on today only, at the Pics Gallery, 18 Newman Street, London W1T 1PE.

Magnum photographer Martin Parr

Magnum photographer Martin Parr

[Picture credit: C Cheesman]

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