Sometimes interesting discussions crop up in online forums that may deserve more light being shed on them, this is especially true of those conversations that occur amidst another topic and would otherwise lay hidden.But
A recent discussion of this ilk centred around Staged vs Candid street photography with a specific lean towards the work of Martin Parr and his Last Resort series took centre stage.
Several of Parr’s images such as the one shown above (Untitled girl service ice-cream) show some level of participation from his subjects, and it’s this level of acknowledgment from the subject which raises suspicions for some as to whether they are candid, posed portraits or even completely fabricated.
In this case Parr was fantastic in pointing out how the image came to being: “[I] can categorically state that no shots from The Last Resort were staged or posed. In the case of the woman looking at the camera, she did suddenly turn round to look at me, and it worked. Most times as you HCSP crew know, people looking at the camera is a disaster, unless it is a portrait. But then that’s the magic of photography it can really throw you, just when you think you know all the rules.”
But despite the confirmation that the image is on the whole candid, some will undoubtedly not see the image as a “street” photograph because of the level of interaction implied between the subject and the photographer.
For me this is one of the most memorable photographs from this specific body of work, it could be because the person depicted brings back memories of someone I once knew, or it could be the nostalgia as around the dates the work was produced I would have been an extremely small child and these images bring back the thoughts of a simpler time that I now long for?
The interaction between the subjects is what makes the image tho, and Parr is right, these sort of gazes are usually a recipe for disaster. But throwing into the mix, the boys glance at her, which may or may not have lasted as long as the photograph implies, the resulting image almost comes across as some sort of cry for help or acknowledgement of what’s happening. Which I suppose is sort of apt given the date of photograph (1983-1985) and the use of breaking the fourth wall in film and media for teens around this time.