Mr. Martin Parr needs little introduction, having been a mainstay of Magnum Photos since his induction in 1994. Famous for his stark observations of the ironies of modern life, Parr says of his work: “I like to create fiction out of reality. I try and do this by taking society’s natural prejudice and giving this a twist.” And interviewing with us from the beach itself…
OB: You like to “create fiction out of reality.” What drew you to the beach as a source of narrative inspiration?
I like to go to a place where people can be themselves; create their own fantasies. Go into their own little world. Its a very good place to go; there’s something really exciting about it.
OB: Do you have a favourite beach or destination for finding particularly interesting or unusual characters to photograph?
There are many great beaches out there. I think the ones in Latin America are pretty exciting, like Copacabana, or Punta Del Este in Uruguay, or Mar Del Plata in Argentina. All these different countries, with different attitudes towards the beach. Its fascinating to go around and see all these different national set of rules and ideas.
OB: What was/is your favourite beach to photograph, and why?
I would say if I could choose any one, anywhere, it would be Mar Del Plata. Its very busy, very crazy, Argentinians are very laid back, like Coney Island must have been in the 60s.
OB: How do you find the beaches that you choose to photograph? What influences your decision to pick a certain beach or location?
I like beaches that are busy and energetic. With lots of light and people everywhere. So if its a very long day, or a bank holiday, or a busy weekend, that type of setting would be perfect.
OB: What was it that drew you to South America? How would you describe the differences and similarities compared to your documentation of British beaches?
The Latin Americans all have a very different approaches to the beach. You know, in Argentina they’re all laid back, they’ve all got nothing on, virtually. In Mexico they’re much more ordered. So I like all these differences between the countries and its a great place to go because when its summer in Latin America, its winter here, so it means you get a double dose of sunshine.
OB: Why do you think Brazilian culture is so open to the “anything-goes” attitude towards the human body?
Firstly they’ve got very good bodies, so that makes it easier to parade. And you know they just like their bodies; they’re a very physical, body-conscious nation: good looking. So the beach is the perfect place to show that off.
OB: Is there a particular destination/beach you would like to document, that you haven’t yet?
I’ve never done and have now started doing some of the beaches in China. I’ve never hit them when they’ve been completely bonkers, which I know they’re capable of being. I’ve never been there during an absolute heatwave, when the beach is so packed you can’t move. So one of my goals is to finally do that. I’ve been there in July when its been very busy, but not completely mad, which I know it can be.
OB: When travelling to the beach, what essential items do you pack and why? (other than your camera, of course!)
Shorts, Birkenstocks, shirts, hats, sunglasses, sunblock. Sounds pretty conventional doesn’t it?
OB: Where do you like to holiday when you’re taking time off from your work?
Well right now I’m on holiday, actually. Today I’m in the Lake District, actually by a sort of beach called Fell Lake, just on Wyndmere. Its not a “beach” per say, but its nice, there are lots of kids around, its a nice day, so lots of families, lots of activity, so its a good place for me to go. To work on holiday!
Elizabeth Weinberg’s stylish work is as an electric mix of fashion, editorial and reportage photography. Through her quick-witted images of cliff divers, beach combers, rock bands and fashion brands, Elizabeth has made a name for herself documenting the adventurous spirit of youth.
Creating shimmering ariel images of glorious beaches and pools is Grey Malin’s speciality. His education in marketing has informed his bold, graphic style of photography that instantly conjures up baking-hot days spent lounging poolside or with the seafoam lapping at your toes.
From silver-screen images of sparkling water and bathing beauties to the intimate observation of shy, semi-naked human interaction, holiday snaps or scenic landscapes, the beach regularly inspires people to pick up a camera and see what they can find through the lens.
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