Martin Parr Territory – Exercise 2

Peter Dench’s approach is very similar to Martin Parr’s, although Dench’s shows the extremes in human behaviour in a stronger way. In Parr’s work I find more humour in the detail, in the recognition of certain behaviour, while Dench’s photography, especially in England Uncensored, is a harsh view of human behaviour in all parts of British society.

There is some humour in the images, but very dark and direct. Dench’s choice of subject and timing presents its subjects in the most vulnerable, unpleasant way. I’m not sure if you could call this voyeuristic, but I would certainly not like to be a subject in one of Dench’s photographs. I’m not sure if it does justice to who his subjects are, but then I also wonder if the people do themselves justice by getting in the situation they are photographed, judgemental as that may sound.

What I like about Dench’s work is that he photographs different layers of society and therefor shows that every person is prone to the behaviour he is documenting. It is not snobby in any sense and shows the uniformity of the Brits, much more than Parr does. Through emphasizing the behaviour of the people and not the individual as such, the voyeuristic element becomes less strong.

I am not sure if I could photograph the way Dench and Parr do. Maybe because I am part of a specific community that would be an easy target for them as well. Knowing the subjects on a personal basis would really hold me back from exposing them in such an unfavourable manner. On the other hand, isn’t photography not a tool to confront us with who we are, make us question ourselves and the lives we live in the first place?

BBC News. (2017). England Uncensored by Peter Dench – BBC News. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].


Martin Parr Territory – Exercise

Martin Parr’s work throughout the years shows his development from being a documentary photographer who is focused on the ordinariness of life, how people behave and decorate their places to focusing mainly on the behaviour of people in the first world that we are all guilty of and resent. He shows different classes and backgrounds, but through the use of colour and flash and zooming in on particularities, draws the viewers attention to the elements that bind us as human beings.

At a certain point Parr claims: ‘I love the part that my work is surrounded by hypocracy and prejudice.’ I think with this he means that he is criticizing, actually exploiting, a culture and way of living that he is part of himself. Through his choice of subject, photographic techniques and timing he really knows to show people at their worst, emphasizing prejudices that may already exist about his subjects.

When I saw Parr’s work in a exhibition in Paris for the first time 3 years ago, I remember thinking exactly the same. He showed a very shallow, prejudiced part of Parisians, which I found quite hypocrite indeed. Looking at his work now and listening to his explanation I notice a difference in my own attitude. Maybe it is through showing the extremes of ourselves, that we can become more open minded in how we look at others as well. On the other hand, if a viewer is not very self reflective, the images may just enforce already existing prejudices and hypocrisy. So it is a bit tricky indeed.

Martin Parr: Photographic Works 1971 – 2000. (2003). 1st ed. [ebook] Bradfort, pp.1-15. Available at: [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). Martin Parr [part 1]. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

A British Tradition – Exercise

I have been looking at most of the work that is presented in Documentary Dilemmas and am pondering on what makes changes happen in a specific genre in the first place. It is interesting to read in the Changing Britain article how practices have changed, but also how the steering factor of who is paying for the work, the purpose of the work, its audience and the position the photographer is in, effects the final outcome of the photographic projects.

Unfortunately, I was not able to open Brett Rogers’ introduction of Documentary Dilemmas anymore, so it is a bit difficult to write about the dilemmas in particular, but the site does say that the background of the ‘renaissance’ in documentary photography is described.

The explanation of Documentary Photography talks about the changes that took place, going from a realist paradigm to work that was open to free interpretation, with a focus on the casual portrayal of people, places and artefacts, shown in an objective, distant way.

In this context it is interesting to think about the different approaches between Koudelka’s and Eskilden’s work on gypsies. It seems that the systematic recording of the subject that Eskilden did fits more in this realist paradigm. Even though Eskilden’s work is much younger than Koudelka’s, it does refer back to an earlier movement in documentary photography, while Koudelka’s work was ahead of his time.

‘Many critics claimed that the documentary impulse, which can perhaps be best defined as the systematic recording of visual reality for the purpose of providing information and encouraging understanding of the world, is inherent in the medium itself. It was this view which came to be known as the realist paradigm – the belief that a photograph represents a ‘slice of reality’ easily understood by the viewer.’

Personally, I think it is good to become aware of the differences in approaches and that there is no right or wrong here. As subjective as photography might be, there are tools to make suggestions of reality, show a certain truth or documentation.


Council, B. (2017). UNTITLED (FROM THE SERIES FRIENDLY FIRE; WEEKEND WARGAMES IN BRITAIN 1989-1994), Anna Fox | Current | Exhibitions | British Council − Visual Arts. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].