Martin Parr on collecting photobooks, shooting tennis, and the challenges of modern street photography

Martin Parr’s photography is instantly recognizable. He zeroes in on the foibles of everyday life, focusing on people in their natural surroundings, highlighting the quirkiness of their lives. A Magnum photographer since 1994, Parr has published more than 100 photobooks and now oversees the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol, England, where he presents exhibitions and hosts talks with photographers.

Parr once had one of the most extensive collections of photobooks in the world, and, in 2017, the Tate Gallery in London acquired the more than 12,000 books he had amassed since the 1980s. I asked Parr if it was hard to let go of the collection, and he said, “Yes, but I knew it was going to happen, and I knew it was the right thing to do. It was too difficult to look after, too valuable; it became a liability as much as an asset. And I couldn’t afford to insure it for its true value; it was worth millions.”

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