Martin Parr is one of Britain’s best-known contemporary photographers, with a broad international following, and is the President of Magnum, the world-famous photo agency. His social documentary style of photography turns a wry and sometimes satirical lens on British life and social rituals, lightened by humour and affection. Between 2013 and 2016, Parr turned his lens to the University of Oxford, capturing the day-to-day life of students and staff at work and play throughout the academic year.
Nasir Hamid followed Parr around Oxford over the course of the project and photographed him at work. The slideshow below shows some of those behind-the-scenes moments.
About his experience Nasir said:
“Oxford is my home town and I am passionate about photography and documenting life in this wonderful place — whether that’s town or gown or anything in between. When I first heard that Martin Parr had been commissioned to work on a photography book about Oxford I wondered if I would bump into him on the streets as I went on my usual lunch break photo walks. Would he be living in Oxford to immerse himself in the project, documenting daily life? I later realised that the project would be less town, more gown and would be carefully managed with only specific events and places photographed but our paths did cross more than a few times and it was on those occasions that I decided to document a photographer at work.
They’re behind you! Martin Parr turns his back on the action to browse images on his digital camera during Trashing. After their final exam, students are trashed by friends and colleagues as they leave the back of the examination hall. This involved much foam spraying, drinking, an exploding bottles of champagne or fizz. Photo courtesy of Nasir Hamid.
Bake sale at Oxford University Press
Martin Parr browsing images on his digital camera after photographing items in a home baking cake sale at Oxford University Press. Photo courtesy of Nasir Hamid.
May Day buttie
Martin Parr chased after this man carrying a sign for free bacon butties on May Day in Oxford. On May Day at 6 am the choir of Magdalen College sing the Eucharist. Huge crowds gather underneath the tower to watch and listen.
Photo courtesy of Nasir Hamid.
May Day walking tree
The walking tree is a regular feature on May Day in Oxford. These May Day revellers jumped in the way as Martin was about to photograph the walking tree. They were not photographed. Photo courtesy of Nasir Hamid.
Meeting space at Oxford University Press
Meetings in progress. Informal meetings taking place in an open plan setting at Oxford University Press. Photo courtesy of Nasir Hamid.
Martin Parr among the crowd on May Morning in Oxford. Photo courtesy of Nasir Hamid.
Amongst the crowd of spectators, Martin Parr captures The Syndicate’s dance routine at Summer Eights, four-day rowing regatta of bumps races. Photo courtesy of Nasir Hamid.
Knitting at Oxford University Press
Martin Parr snaps the Oxford University Press knitting group. Photo courtesy of Nasir Hamid.
Featured image credit: 54 St Aldates by London Road. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.