Martin Parr was born in Epsom, Surrey, UK, in 1952. When he was a boy, his budding interest in the medium of photography was encouraged by his grandfather George Parr, himself a keen amateur photographer.
Martin Parr studied photography at Manchester Polytechnic, from 1970 to 1973.
Since that time, Martin Parr has worked on numerous photographic projects. He has developed an international reputation for his innovative imagery, his oblique approach to social documentary, and his input to photographic culture within the UK and abroad.
In 1994 he became a full member of Magnum Photographic Cooperative.
Parr developed an interest in filmmaking, and has started to use his photography within different genres, such as fashion and advertising.
Parr holds the Guiness World Record for having the largest simultaneous photography exhibition. An exhibition showing Common Sense could be viewed at 41 galleries around the world on 1 April 1999. The exhibition was shown at a total of 44 venues during March, April and May 1999.
In 2002 the Barbican Art Gallery and the National Media Museum initiated a large retrospective of Martin Parr’s work. This exhibition toured Europe for the next 5 years.
Martin Parr was Professor of Photography at The University of Wales Newport campus from 2004 to 2012.
Martin Parr was Guest Artistic Director for Rencontres D’Arles in 2004.
In 2006 Martin Parr was awarded the Erich Salomon Prize and the resulting Assorted Cocktail show opened at Photokina.
In 2008 Martin Parr was guest curator at New York Photo Festival, curating the New Typologies exhibition.
Parrworld opened at Haus de Kunst, Munich, in 2008. The show exhibited Parr’s own collection of objects, postcards, photography prints by both British and International photographers, photo books and a new project from Parr entitled Luxury. The exhibition toured Europe for the following 2 years.
At PhotoEspana, 2008, Martin Parr won the Baume et Mercier award in recognition of his professional career and contributions to contemporary photography.
Martin Parr curated the Brighton Photo Biennial in October 2010.
From 2008-2013 Parr was a visiting Professor at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. Parr was appointed a 0.2FTE Professor of Photography there in 2013.
In Spring 2015 Aperture published The Chinese Photobook, a book about the history of Chinese photo books that Parr collaborated with Wassinklundgren on.
In March 2016 Strange and Familiar, curated by Parr, opened at the Barbican, London. The show examines how international photographers from 1930s onwards have photographed in the UK.
Martin Parr was awarded the Sony World Photography Award for Outstanding Contribution to Photography in April 2017.
Between 2013 – 2017 Martin was president of Magnum Photos.
In Autumn 2017 the Martin Parr Foundation opened in Bristol.
In March 2019, Only Human opened at the National Portrait Gallery, London. The exhibition included portraits from around the world, with a special focus on Britishness, explored through a series of projects that investigated British identity.
Martin Parr was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s birthday honours in June, 2021.
He received an honorary degree from the University of South Wales, 2023.
Martin Parr has published over 120 books of his own work and edited another 30.