Tourist photographer’ Martin Parr wants to show you what’s really going on in the world’s favourite holiday destinations

Martin Parr – The Guardian

The myth and the reality
Saturday October 27, 2007
Copyright The Guardian
Modern technology has taken the angst out of achieving the perfect shot. For me, the only thing that counts is the idea behind the image: what you want to see and what you’re trying to say. The idea is crucial. You have to think of something you want to say and expand upon it.
By default I am a travel photographer. I work on a combination of commissions and personal projects that take me around the world. But I am also a tourist photographer and, as such, I explore the ambiguity between mythology and reality through photography. We are sold a very romantic vision of tourist destinations, but most of the images you see are propaganda. You are being sold a cliche that you are conditioned to accept as reality. In fact, the reality of that destination will be very different. You’ll find too many people, queues and tourists eager to perpetuate the myth that inspired them to travel in the first place.
In Small World, a project I began in 1995, this ambiguity is exposed by photographing what is actually there: tourists lining up to be processed on to a gondola; passengers trying to relieve the tedium of a 10-hour flight to Kingston, Jamaica; a Korean tour group posing for a photograph in front of the Acropolis…
..For those aspiring to make a living from travel photography, it’s a sad fact that the boring shots are the shots that are going to make you money. If you want to inject your own personality into a shot, veer off the beaten track. Find the backstreets, the markets, the small independent shops, and look for situations that are going to reveal real individuals (I often take photos in barber shops). Although most photographers won’t admit it, I acknowledge that there is an element of exploitation to this – but I see it as exploitation with responsibility.
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