Englishman Martin Parr is among the world’s great documentary photographers and photojournalists. In a career spanning forty years, Parr has documented rural life in Britain and Ireland, the working classes, the middle class and mass tourism, among others. His work has been part of over 80 exhibitions worldwide. Parr also looks at food in a unique manner, and is a pioneering food photographer, who has been photographing food long before mobile phones became commonplace.
Real Food, his latest work, published by Phaidon, is a celebration of all kinds of food: from hot dogs to lemon meringue pie. Real Food features photographs of meals taken in over 30 countries. Most of the photographs in Real Food are, typical of Parr, close-ups. Parr’s works are almost always anthropological studies, and Real Food attempts to answer the question: what does the food we eat reveal about ourselves?
While chefs globally are stressing on seasonal and local produce, Parr’s photographs focus on the opposite. The accent is on refined and processed food, but the social aspect of food is also brought into play: images of a stars and stripes-adorned pie in New York, a plate of custard creams on a picnic blanket in Dorset and tins of Spam covered in fake cherry blossom in Tokyo.
“You can tell a lot about society, who we are and what we like doing, by looking at the food we eat,” Parr says in an interview to Bloomberg.“As a subject matter, it’s quite revealing. It’s like a new social landscape so it’s been good to explore food all around the world. I am showing food as it really is because we are surrounded by images in magazines where you see food looking glorious and beautiful, and we know that most people don’t surround themselves with food like that. It is like the propaganda of food sales.”
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