Photographer Martin Parr’s breakthrough series The Last Resort

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort'. 1983-85, LON6985
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr’s rise to fame

The Last Resort, was an unwavering series of photographs that featured the working-class seaside resort of New Brighton, situated in Merseyside, as the primary subject. The series of photographs is what helped to bring Martin Parr to broad public attention during the mid-1980s. Since the launch of the Last Resort, Parr has since grown to become one of the most influential and important voices in British photography.

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort'. 1983-85, LON6978
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

The Last Resort & Mixed reviews

When Parr’s photography book was published, released and exhibited back in 1986, it was so prolific that it divided both critics and audiences with dissenting opinions. Some saw it as a great achievement that helped to set the standards for colored photography while other critics saw it an abnormality and a deviation from the norm.

Video: Martin Parr – ‘Photography is a Form of Therapy’

7min 2sec

Parr’s switch from black-white to color photography

Martin Parr was well-known for using exclusively black and white prints. It was not until he witnessed Peter Mitchell’s exhibition, who was also a known British photographer, that he changed his approach to the use of colored photography. Parr was also influenced heavily to switch to color photographs by the works of other American photographers such as Joel Meyerowitz and William Eggleston.

Which camera did Martin Parr use?

For The Last Resort, Parr switched from his 35mm camera to using a medium-format Plaubel Makina rangefinder 6x7cm camera. Using the medium format camera allowed him to shoot images with much sharper detail. The Plaubel Makina rangefinder was also a lot lighter and more compact compared to the 35mm camera that he was utilizing initially.

Plaubel Makina rangefinder 6x7cm camera
Plaubel Makina rangefinder 6x7cm camera
Photo: 35mmc.com

Video: Book preview

3min 27sec

Analysis

Today, The Last Resort is seen as a classic that is often highly sought after by photographers and aspiring artists. Steering a risky course between impartiality and voyeurism, Parr observed the slowly decaying and crumbling town of New Brighton as well as the holidaymakers that frequented the town with a new and disturbing perspective. To represent his perspective, he opted to capture his images in color, which was something quite different, unexpected and unique at the time.

The New Brighton photographs were captured between 1983 and 1985. Most of the images included in the book were powerful single images that had meaning on their own. The compositions were strong, well executed in terms of framing and featured a wonderful color aesthetic, which was made even more beautiful by the use of the flash during the day.

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort'. 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Conclusion

For some critics, his photographs seemed cruel and cold as they captured the working classes of people desperately trying to pursue their holiday adventures surrounded by pollution thanks to the consumer ridden society. For some, Parr’s images displayed a bitter satire of Britain during the Thatcher era.

Photos

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

Martin Parr - GB. England. New Brighton. From 'The Last Resort', 1983-85
Martin Parr – GB. England. New Brighton. From The Last Resort, 1983-85

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