I think the photo book is really the ultimate statement that a photographer can make.
You're in charge of the images, in charge of the narrative, you have an impact on how it's going to be printed, what paper. So it's the ultimate statement. You'll never meet a photographer that doesn't want to do a photo book. And in fact, I've done over 120 of them and I'm still excited when I see it for the first time and look at the book and think great, that's another statement that I've made that can be part of my legacy.
People don't throw books away. Magazines get thrown away, exhibitions come and go, the photobook, you just don't have it in you to throw a photobook away.
I think nearly every photographer you meet, they'll have seen a book or sometimes a print, but normally a book that sort of changed their life and made them want to be a photographer.
I guess the Pencil of Nature was hugely important because it really was the first photo book, so he [Talbot] had the foresight to understand that the book was probably going to be the most important, you know, if you like legacy of what he did with photography. And has made a book which you know is still being collected and shown here today, over 170 years later. What an amazing thing to have achieved.
Photographs really don't work singly. I mean, you can have a nice image which you can take out of context, but the real achievement of photographers is to make a statement and that has, you know, beginning and end, a middle, a narrative. You know you're making the point. You know, you're trying to communicate what it was that you found in the subject matter that moved you, and you're trying to make sure that the photographer gets that into the book, and therefore it's there for the reader to understand, interpret, and, you know, appreciate.
You get your images – you know these days you print it out, I'd always say print out them and have them separate don't just have them on the screen – and then you can start arranging the pictures into an order. You have to make sure that the message you're trying to get across is there to be seen. Sometimes you have to put pictures in because they are part of the narrative. Sometimes you put them in just because they're great. Because you know you can't really have a book or say 70 images and all, they're all going to be great. It's impossible. You know, there are very few books that have achieved that. Maybe The Americans by Robert Frank.
The first photo book I did was called Bad Weather. And it's literally me going out when the weather was bad, photography is associated with sunny days and everything. So I wanted to reverse that and I took myself to boring places. I went to motorway service stations. I went to town city centres. I want to do interesting pictures in boring places, but in bad weather.
I guess my favourite Martin Parr book is The Last Resort. It's about my relationship to new Brighton at the time it was exciting changing from black and white to colour using flash. Having this different sort of palette, I wanted to contrast, you know, the shabby backdrop with this sort of day visitors and that was really the whole point of the book, and I think that message still comes across 35 years later.