top of page

Martin Parr

Death by Selfie

Martin round.png

Martin Parr is one of the best-known documentary photographers of his generation. With over 100 books of his own published, and another 30 edited by him, Parr's photographic legacy is already established. Parr also acts as a curator and editor. He has curated two photography festivals, Arles in 2004 and Brighton Biennial in 2010. More recently Parr curated the Barbican exhibition, Strange and Familiar. Parr has been a member of the Magnum agency since 1994 and was its president from 2013 - 2017. In 2013 Parr was appointed the visiting professor of photography at the University of Ulster. Parr’s work has been collected by many of the leading museums including the Tate, the Pompidou and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He established the Martin Parr Foundation in 2017. In 2019 the National Portrait Gallery in London held a major exhibition of Parr’s work titled Only Human.

Death by Selfie 

Here is an unproven statistic: India is the world leader for selfie taking. The only potential competitor would be China, with a similarly large population. However, if you refer to the  ‘Death by Selfie‘ statistics, India is so far ahead and there is no real competition.  It is probably wise to assume that if more people are killed by a phenomenon, then more of this activity must be taking place. In 2015, as many as 27 people died taking selfies. In both 2016 and 2017, 68 were killed by selfies. Many of the deaths occurred when other people stepped in to try and rescue the selfie takers who were washed away by freak waves. People also die by going too near a raging fire, or by stepping backwards off a cliff edge. The other observation I would make is that very rarely do selfies come singly; a typical sequence would have many dozens of options perused, and sometimes these extended sessions can take a good ten minutes.  I am not sure how the editing takes place, or indeed if these selfies get saved and downloaded. Another novelty for me is that people often request to have a selfie with me because I am a Westerner and of course I agree. So there must hundreds of images of me floating in Indian cyberspace, untraceable autoportraits that will never be recognised.

bottom of page