Reflection – Parr vs Wood

Parr and Wood were photographing new Brighton at the same time during the early 1980s. Parr claimed ‘I am a documentary photographer, and if I take a good photograph in the process, that’s a bonus.’ Wood stated ‘I’m interested in good photographs, and if they document something, so much the better!’ (Wood, 2005, p.33).

Which of these approaches most closely reflects your own experience?

Course manual p. 46

After watching the video on Tom Wood I think that my own experience definitely leans more towards that of Tom Wood than Martin Parr. When doing street photography I tend to go out and try and get interesting photos. I don’t always realise it at the time, but when I get home I do sometimes find that I have some images that would fit into a documentary category. But I really just start out with a blank slate in my mind and go with the flow of whatever is happening on that particular day and try and have some fun.

Puerto Vallarta - Lynda Kuit 2016
Puerto Vallarta – Lynda Kuit 2016

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2 thoughts on “Reflection – Parr vs Wood”

  1. I wonder if the question needs to be asked, what is a good photograph? I think the answer is dependent on so much. A good photograph may be a nondescript blur but if it communicates something the photographer is trying to say then it succeeds in its intent. A perfectly balanced, well taken, well processed photograph might be quite horrible! Saying that, having seen some of Parr’s work recently at exhibitions I was surprised by some he included – there were images that I found interesting and effective but they might not have been described as ‘good’ by someone looking with limited criteria to make the distinction. And others that I just didn’t get at all… We must also question ourselves about what it is that is making us define something as ‘good’. It’s subjective sure, but might it also not be ideological too? Good is a difficult word. And Tom Wood and Martin Parr should be aware of that! I do enjoy how much you post on other photographers as I it’s very informative!

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    1. Good points and thanks. We need to move beyond the camera club mentality of boring perfection and endless Photoshopping. I’m finding myself relating more to photographs that speak to me or convey a message rather than the beautiful processed image that sort gets me saying “yeah that beautiful … so what?”

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