Click to read more

All photographs in this article are copyrighted by Martin Parr / Magnum Photos. Warning: Some of the shots in the book are NSFW as they show child nudity.

One of my favorite color photography books is “The Last Resort” by Martin Parr. For 2014, I want to start doing more book reviews– sharing some of my favorite books, sharing why I love them, and trying my best to analyze and share my observations about them.

Historical background of “The Last Resort”

Note: All of the information this section has been lifted from the great introduction by Gerry Badger (including the information, context, history, and quotes):

The reason I wanted to write about “The Last Resort” is because I honestly think it is Martin Parr’s best work– and I am a huge fan of his. Not only that, but it was quite revolutionary at the time– as the majority of British documentary photographers at the time were working in color.

Martin Parr used to work more or less exclusively in black and white, and credits his change to color after seeing his friend Peter Mitchell’s exhibition, “A New Refutation of the Viking IV Space Mission” (also a British photographer). Not only that, but he was quite impressed by the color work of American photographers such as William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, and Joel Meyerowitz.

For “The Last Resort” — he switched from shooting a 35mm to using a medium-format Plaubel Makina 6x7cm rangefinder camera. The advantage of shooting with the camera was that it gave a lot more detail than simply using a 35mm camera– while still being compact and light.

plaubel

When he worked on the book, he frequented a run-down sea-side resort in New Brighton (a mostly working class area) from 1983-1985. Parr described the seaside as: “…if the seaside was tatty, and more than a little run-down, it was also vibrant.”

When he first exhibited his work at London’s Serpentine Gallery– the feedback he has was extremely harsh. Here are some things said about his exhibition, this one from art critic David Lee:

“(Parr) has habitually discovered visitors at their worst, greedily eating and drinking junk food and discarding containers and wrappers with an abandon likely to send a liberal conscience into paroxysms of sanctimony. Our historic working class, normally dealt with generosity by documentary photographers, becomes a sitting duck for a more sophisticated audience. They appear fat, simple, styleless, tediously conformist and unable to assert any individual identity. They wear cheap flashy clothes and in true conservative fashion are resigned to their meagre lot. Only babies and children survive ridicule and it is their inclusion in many pictures which gives Parr’s acerbic vision of hopelessness its poetic touch.”

Another harsh review came from Robert Morris from The British Journal of Photography:

“This is a clammy, claustrophobic nightmare world where people lie knee-deep in chip papers, swim in polluted black ponds, and stare at a bleak horizon of urban dereliction.”

However over time, the feedback of the book became much more positive. For example in October 2008, “The Last Resort” was chosen by The Guardian newspaper as one of “1000 Artworks to See Before You Die.” This is what Elisabeth Mahoney said:

“At the time, Martin Parr’s series of photographs from New Brighton, a dilapidated seaside spot on the Wirral, were seen as condescending. But now they look humorously engaged and fond, bringing British working-class nooks and crannies into view, and reminding us how unusual that was (and is) in art photography.”

Furthermore Val Williams wrote:

“So what was it about The Last Resort that so terrified and disgusted the people who wrote about it? There is some litter, admittedly, but it’s never knee-deep, and there are some fat people, but they’re not gargantuan and they’re not in the majority. There are crews of babies who seem to be having a good time, eating, drinking, even smiling, and a lot of very pretty women taking part in beauty competitions, dancing, sunbathing, talking to other women. There are families who may well be suffering under Thatcherism, but they’re still managing to have a good day out.”

Why I love the Last Resort

I love “The Last Resort” for several reasons:

1) First of all, I think almost all of the photos in the book are strong single-images. I feel that the majority of the images could stand on their own. They have strong compositions, well-executed framing, and a wonderful color aesthetic which is brought out by the superb detail of the medium-format negatives as well as the flash used in the middle of the day. There are a few images in the book that I think Parr could have done without– but this is just my opinion.

2) Secondly, the book has a great sense of emotion in the images– and a wonderful cadence (flow) of images. There are images that feel quite sad, lonely, and melancholy– while other shots are much more humorous, silly, and cheerful. But I think what makes many of the images great is that this line is often blurred– you are never sure if people are really having a good time (or simply trying to escape from their misery).

3) Thirdly, I enjoy the socio-economic commentary in this book. To my understanding, New Brighton was a mostly working-class area– and as you can see through the pictures, it doesn’t look like the fanciest or prettiest place to go on holiday. So there are certainly connotations of class. But at the same time, a lot of people seem to be having fun and enjoying themselves– regardless if they aren’t in the prettiest beach-side resort.

When I visited London, I also learned that there is a strong cultural aspect of the British to visit seaside resorts during holiday– so it shows a lot of what the British like to do in their time off.

4) Lastly, I love the sequencing, pacing, and the pairing of images. Most of the photos in the book only show one picture per spread, but some of the shots being paired up (which are done very purposefully). Not only that, but the book seems to start with a melancholy mood, switching from anxiety, to humor, to despair, to cheerfulness. Like I mentioned earlier, it is an emotional roller-coaster of a book — and I feel that there is a perfect number of images (41 images in total). I often find some books have too many images — which make them burdensome to look through. But The Last Resort makes every image purposeful.

Analyzing the Images

I will now try my best to analyze the images in the book — and interpret it according to how I see it. Of course, this isn’t how Martin Parr intended — but I hope these thoughts will be helpful to you.

You can see all the photos from the book on the Magnum Photos website here.

LON6955

In this leading image, we see a bored couple sitting inside a restaurant. There is a lovely pinkish pastel on the wall, juxtaposed against a teal green on the wall– very soothing colors. But you see the older man on the far right, cigarette in mouth– staring off into the distance. And the woman in the left doesn’t seem very interested as well, inspecting her fingernails. What I feel is the “cherry on top” (my favorite detail) is the lamp on the top of the frame– which mirrors that of the couple.

The leading image is always the most important photo of the book– as it sets the tone for the rest of the book. This image creates a sense of melancholy and loneliness– and that sense that when you are on holiday you are supposed to be having “fun” — whereas this couple obviously don’t seem they are.

Also note that the majority of the photos in the book are shot with a flash– whereas this is one of the few that doesn’t have a flash– it uses natural light. You see a few natural light shots in the book– but they are all mostly in the beginning of the book. This helps create a sense of consistency in terms of the aesthetic of the images throughout the book.

 

LON6956

In this second image you see an even darker and gloomier photograph. Parr photographs what looks like either an extremely young couple, or siblings holding their little baby sister — pacifier in mouth. You see how dirty and derelict the environment is, with the dusty and dirty windows– as well as the great detail of the cracked window on top.

This image follows up well to the first image– setting a darker mood.

 

LON6957

Suddenly the following image is a much brighter image– although you still see some of the graffiti and grunge in the background.

The primary content of the photograph is a young woman petting a dog, an older man with his hands on his hips looking pleased– and a little girl in red pushing a baby stroller looking curiously over.

All of the subjects in this shot are well spaced from one another– and I love the vibrancy that the flash brings to the shot– even though it was during the day. Not only that, but the red of the little girl’s shirt makes he pop out and be the main subject in the photograph.

The best detail is of course, the fake baby in the stroller– which follows up well to the previous image of the baby also in the photograph.

LON6958

The next image then sets the scene a little more– showing how dystopic and dirty the beach-side is. You see the ground littered with styrofoam plates, half-eaten french fries (or “chips” as the British call them), and of course the iconic red “Coke” cup on the bottom.

The adult figure in the shot has her head decapitated on top of the frame– but you se her reflection in the window, looking as if she is going to eat something (this is a great composition).

Furthermore, you see the little girl on the left in a cute little outfit, enjoying her meal– and the boy on the right seems to be yelling, crying, or complaining about something. He is the only one in the shot who doesn’t have any food– and the slight redness in the shot shows his frustration.

LON6959

Speaking of babies and children– they are a re-occuring theme in this book.

This image was one of the most stirring images I first saw int he book– a baby that seemed to have magically escaped its sroller, and is playing (or hugging) the arcade machines. The first question comes to mind is: Where is the baby’s parents– why isn’t anyone looking after this child?

Then you look around the frame, and you see that there are some older ladies on the left– playing some games. They seem so engrossed in their activity that they totally leave the baby alone to wander– and possibly hurt itself?

The greater concept that comes to mind is parental responsibility– should’t someone take care of the baby? Or are we so distracted by games and amusement that we totally forget about them now?

20140120_121820

The next spread is the first spread which includes two images paired together. I love this paired spread — as you see two sets of parents (one woman, and the other male) playing with their children inside amusement park spaceships. The first spaceship is orange, which perfectly complements the blue/white spaceship in the following image.

Not only that, but I love the orientation of the two images:

The orange spaceship is facing to the right, while the man on the right is faced to the left. It appears as if both of them are going to collide.

LON6960

In the image of the younger woman with the baby in the orange spaceship– she looks obviously bored, and even the baby looks like it is trying to escape from this boring ride.

LON6961

The other image with the man in the spaceship fighter with his younger daughter — looks pretty engrossed in the game. But then you have this other baby in the red as if it were abandoned– looking aimlessly outside. Then you have that little animal-figurine in the background smiling on nonchalantly.

LON6962

There is then another image in the sequence of arcade machines and rides– this time a surprised looking baby in a tank. It is a pretty powerful image– as it looks as if the tank is heading straight towards you. And it isn’t any old tank– it is a ferocious looking one, with realistic-looking machine guns pointed straight ahead. And the unassuming child at head command.

LON6963

To finish off the sequence of children in coin-operated rides, you see a young couple on a creepy looking ride with clowns on each side. The frame is well filled– with the two clowns acting as the “book-ends” of the photograph, and the young parents filling the middle of the frame, and the baby in the middle-bottom of the frame, as the primary subject.

Personally this isn’t my favorite image in the book– it looks as if the baby is blinking. I wish Parr caught a moment where the baby had a different expression in her face.

LON6964

The next shot is then a nice change of pace — you now zoom out from the previous shots which were shot closely.

You see a landscape of people at what seems to be an indoor-outdoor pool. This artificial beach is swarming with people–like ants all over a picnic basket. It is a bit claustrophobic — and the primary subjects in the shot are the young couple, with the girl in the pink bikini looking as if she is overwhelmed or passed out from all of the commotion.

The pink also is crucial in her outfit– as it causes her to pop out from the scene, and is a nice juxtaposition between the blue sky and blue water in the background.

LON6965

The next image then zooms in again on the action.

As a side note– what Parr does so well in many of the shots in the book is that he fills the frame extremely well. Not only that but his use of flash during the day really helps his subjects pop out. In terms of his exposure and shutter speed– he is under-exposing the background by 2/3 or a full stop, which gives the subjects more contrast.

In this shot, you see an entire family either sipping on a Pepsi (the older perhaps grandparents on the far left) and the “decisive moment” of the little boy in the middle ripping open a bag of chips. Amongst all this chaos– you see the baby in the stroller looking directly at Parr, with a look of anxiety and frustration on her face.

LON6966

When I first saw this image it was quite shocking– a photograph of a little boy without pants on.

To my understanding, when Parr shot this book in the 80’s, nobody really seemed to care to have their kids walking around with pants on. But nowadays of course– there is a lot of paranoia about child pedophilia. This is a scene you will never see anymore.

Anyways, what I love about the shot is all of the hand gestures and arms reaching around in the frame. You have the woman in the far left handing over the woman in the far right a Milky Way chocolate bar, the second to left woman seems to be about to feed her little boy something, the lady in the middle seems to be bothered by her son who is reaching over at her thigh, perhaps asking for something.

And the little boy himself seems confused and a bit overwhelmed with all of this action. And the “cherry on top” in terms of details in this shot is that little bright-red shovel in the bottom of the frame, once again popping out of the frame.

LON6967

The next shot in the sequence seems to be around the same area– by the murky water (with everyone sitting on the concrete). You see multiple actions going on– and a nice use of filling the frame by Parr. You have the little boy in the center holding up what looks like a wooden bicycle wheel with a heroic gesture (almost like a Roman statue), the woman with the red shirt and waving hair dipping her child playfully in the water, and the woman in the middle looking over with an exasperated gesture (hand on her face, and elbow slouched over her knees).

It is hard to see in the image above (but easy to see in the book)– that there are lovely details of two orange rubber duckies, shoes with socks stuffed inside, and an open purse with stuff inside. You also have another baby on the far right of the frame moving around– to add more movement and action to the scene.

LON6968

In this image we have one of what I think are the strongest images in the book– a young-looking mother on the bottom of the frame, feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed out from her baby crying above. The mother is looking out of the frame– perhaps wondering when this stressful vacation will be over. The baby (as cute as it looks with the pink umbrella above) — is crying and wailing her lungs out– a sound that most parents have a difficult time getting used to.

Not only that, but you see them all lying on top of solid concrete– not the softest or most pleasant surface to be on top. The ground is also littered with biscuit wrappers, clothes, and shoes– and I love the detail of the woman in the far right of the frame in the blue bikini, looking casually onwards at their pain.

LON6969

This next image is a much more intimate photograph than the one prior– also shot at an unusually low angle.

When I saw this photograph, I was curious how Parr shot it. He must have been lying on the ground– but how did he take this photo (that seems to look candid) without the attractive young mother noticing? Perhaps she did and didn’t care– but perhaps she didn’t?

Anyways, I love the look of intensity the mother is feeding the baby with– also grasping the baby’s head. The funny juxtaposition in the shot is the man with the thick eyebrows, facial hair, and black speedo in the background.

LON6970

Another shot that has many lovely little details is this one– with the baby playing alone in the sand, with all of this action going on in the background. The baby looks disintered in what he/she is doing–looking away from the action. And in the background we have a kid on the top right, taking off his shirt– as if he wants to go play. You also have a pair of legs, crossed and dangling into the shot of the far left. And you have the decapitated (perhaps mother) in the middle of the frame, hands crossed over her hips and smoking a cigarette.

I have to give props to Parr for taking this shot– he must have had to got right into the scene, crouched down low, and took the shot without hesitating. Although it isn’t my favorite shot in the book (I wish the baby’s expression was a little more interesting)– you can see how well Parr does with getting close to his subjects and filling the frame, while getting interesting actions going on in the background.

LON6971

To continue, you have a humorous shot– of a mother perhaps changing her baby’s diaper with the pacifier in her mouth. This sequences well after the previous shot– in which the baby had its pacifier in its mouth.

Not only that, but the baby looks quite surprised at Parr taking the photograph (almost as much as surprised as the mother).

What is a bit gross is all the trash in the water on the right side of the frame. It doesn’t seem to be the most hygienic place to change the diaper of a child.

In terms of the background even though it is a bit busy– it is quite organized. You have a couple in the middle of the frame together that fills that spot, and another couple in the background, with one lady pointing (that doesn’t overlap with the other couple). And you also have a nice detail of a girl in the far right of the frame– sticking one leg in the water and playing with her toes.

LON6972

The images then start to transition into being very sweet and intimate moments. In this image you have a father and his little daughter– close to one another and intimate on the ground with one another. The father is chilling by his side, hand on his head–looking lovingly at her daughter who is taking a big gulp of the red Coke bottle (which juxtaposes against her little yellow outfit well). The boy in the top left looks as if he is looking admirably– smiling along. But then you have the woman in the top right of the frame, looking a bit alone and despondent– a strong emotional contrast to the father and the daughter central in the frame.

Note you also get a great sense of intimacy in the shot considering how low Parr got to take this photo — while also getting close to his subjects and filling his frame.

LON6973

Another sweet moment is this photograph in which you see a little girl brushing the hair of her young and attractive mother. The mother looks on– admiring the little girl. Another thing you notice obviously is how the little girl is naked– something you would never see nowadays.

LON6974

Suddenly the book changes pace and rhythm– as we are thrust into the middle of a beauty pageant. The beautiful woman looks radiant and shines towards the crowd, but the scene just looks so empty. You even wonder to yourself: is there even a crowd that is looking at her?

20140120_130849

Then the second two-image spread shows in the book. You have the beauty pageant contestants getting ready on the left side of the page (all who are young women), juxtaposed against the young girls on the right side of the page that also look as if they are getting ready for a beauty pageant. There are two different aged women/girls both getting ready for the same thing– showing off their beauty.

LON6975

The first image in the left side of the frame is interesting for the depth in the shot. You have a photographer in the far left of the frame (perhaps a funny joke of Parr self-referencing himself as a photographer)– and the three beauty pageant contestants holding their numbers, getting ready to go on stage. You have nice little details of the colored flags on top and little flowers on bottom. I love the spacing between the three women, and how they are all doing different gestures in preparation to get ready.

LON6976

You then have the little girls on the right side of the frame getting ready for another beauty pageant– with the two middle-aged women writing down scores or something to judge them. You have a little girl in the middle of the frame looking sassy– holding her chin upwards while stroking back her hair. A little too adult-like for a girl her age.

LON6977

Then appears one of the strongest (and most popular) photos from the book– of a young woman behind the ice cream counter, staring back at Parr disapprovingly. You feel how overwhelmed she must feel– with all these kids scrambling in the background trying to get some ice cream — in the midst of the blazing hot sun.

While the woman is looking disapprovingly at Parr– turned around funny and hand on her hip, you have the two boys on the left– staring straight at her chest (like many young boys do).

LON6978

The next shot in the book is also another scene that alludes to food and also is shot behind a counter. In this scene you see all of the kids trying to furiously pump ketchup and condiments on their hot dogs– especially the girl in the middle who is doing so with extreme concentration. You get a similar sense of anxiety and commotion from the previous shot.

LON6979

The next shot gives us a breath of fresh air– as we are once again outside. But once again, we are presented with mounds of trash. The little girl shrugs from the pile of trash bursting from the seams– with her father offering her some food. We don’t know if the little girl is either staring at the trash, or simply refusing to eat the food given to her).

Once again this image sets the mood of the dystopic feel of this sea-side resort– of it being dirty, unhygienic, and overwhelming.

LON6980

The book then transitions to a young couple– the couple looking as if they are having some small argument or spat. The man looks despondent — away from his wife and crossing his legs. The woman is looking a bit annoyed or upset with her husband– and you have presumably their son being annoying and butting into the conversation.

I feel Parr could’ve done without this photo in the book– as it isn’t shot with a flash (doesn’t fit in as well aesthetically as the other shots with a flash). Although the interaction in the right side of the frame is pretty good– I wish I could’ve seen more of the child in the stroller in the far left, at least the child’s facial expression.

LON6981

In this image, you see a relatively hip couple chilling on their bright yellow sports car, boombox and all. In this shot Parr shows that the individuals coming to the beach just aren’t old people, families, and babies– but there are young people as well.

Personally this shot isn’t as interesting content-wise as the other shots, but I still appreciate how Parr included this image to show more diversity of the people in New Brighton, enjoying the beach during their holidays.

LON6982

This is another shot that mirrors the shot we saw earlier in the book with a familiar looking red pole (see shot below). Once again you see it littered with trash, as the little wastebasket attached to the pole is overflowing.

Parr really catches a great “decisive moment” in this shot– as the little boy in the far left of the frame is licking his ice cream cone, the woman in the middle is eating her french fry, and the woman in the far right is pointing out of the frame. All the subjects are well spaced out in the shot, which creates great balance.

My favorite surreal touch in this image is how the wastebasket looks as if it is mysteriously hovering over the stroller in the far left of the frame– seemingly about to crush the stroller and the little boy.

LON6979
The previous shot from earlier in the book.

The following spread is the third spread in the book– and one of the most brilliant:

20140120_130904

You have the naked boy on the left, outstretching his hands in a theatrical gesture– and the woman in the right stretching out her arms in a similar gesture. It is great how they are both facing the left side of the frame– and there is this juxtaposition between having a combination of a boy on the left, and a woman on the right.

LON6983

Once again, it amazes me how much people didn’t really seem to care back then to let their kids run around naked.

Anyways– the composition of the photograph is great. The boy is perfectly framed by water– so there are no distracting or ugly overlaps. You also have a nice leading line from the right side of the pier– with people perfectly space apart, legs stretching into the water. The concrete pier and the water frame the boy superbly well. Also the scan above doesn’t do justice (the printed book has a much nicer saturated blue color in the water).

The gesture of the boy is quite interesting– he has his arm stretched out as if he were an actor on a stage. Who is he performing to? And you can see his “stage” is full and littered with trash. Regardless– the kid looks like he is having a great time.

 

LON6984

In the other image– you see what looks like to be a dancer in front of an outdoor amphitheater or stage– striking her final pose in her radiant violet dress which pops out from the background. There is also a great juxtaposition with the little green trash bin– which also stands tall and seems to be leaning forward– opposite of the woman leaning more backwards.

This creates an interesting tension– both in terms of the two subjects (green garbage can and violet girl) — and the colors complement each other well too.

LON6985

This is another of my favorite single-images from the book– of two kids eating ice cream by the curb– with the ice cream dripping all over their hands and face. The boy on the right looks heroically out of the frame, while the little girl is looking curiously over at Parr– with a little stuffed animal in her hand. It is perfect how there is even spacing between both of them– and how both of them are wearing tops that have similar baby-blue hues.

I like the touch of red in the car in the bottom-left of the frame– although it might be a bit distracting from the rest of the frame (red is one of the strongest and most attention-grabbing colors out there).

LON6986

In the next photo in the book, you see nice layering by Parr, with the woman enjoying the sun on the bottom left of the frame, the kid in the middle of the frame having a similar expression to the woman, and the parents helping a kid in the background put on his shoes. This image probably isn’t as strong as the other shots in the book– but a nice “filler” image to keep the pace going in the book.

LON6987

What kind of beach would there be without dogs? Parr shows in this shot some dogs that seem to frequent the park.

It also looks like to primarily portray the “well-to-do” couples in the area. The man looks a lot more proper and presumably upper-middle class (or upper class) in his clean and crisp polo shirt and ironed slacks. The woman a little bit off in the distance in the left of the frame also looks like she is dressed quite well.

The next few pictures in the book– you will also see dogs popping up more.

LON6988

To play with this dog sequencing– you have another shot, this time with two little chihuahua-looking dogs. One in the bottom left is parking directly at Parr, while the other is looking away. And in the center of the frame, you see a woman exclaiming how cute the younger woman’s baby is– not noticing the little dog barking at Parr.

I think it is a cute moment between the woman and the child– I am glad how Parr displayed this happy moment (despite some of the more somber images in the book).

LON6989

In this frame you see a bunch of people hanging out on what look like to be extremely uncomfortable rocks. There is a ton of action in the shot– and it seems that all of the people in the front of the frame are turned away (to avoid being seen in the shot) — even the dog.

Small details that are hard to see in the scan above (but easily seen in the book) is that the woman in the bottom left in red is holding a newspaper that says “Separate Dreams” — as if symbolizing that the people at the beach wish they could dreaming at a different (perhaps nicer) beach.

The man in the middle of the frame looks quite lonely — smoking a cigarette by himself on a white beach towel which looks like it could seat two. The irony is that he is wearing a shirt that says: “Champion.”

My favorite small detail is the two little kids in the top right of the frame, looking over the ledge, having their legs dangling out from behind them.

LON6990

You get another shot highlighting all of the trash and junk at the beach. Despite all of this, the boy in the far left is putting his feet inside the water (kind of gross)– while you have people walking on by in the middle of the frame and the far right of the frame.

While I do like the balance of the shot– I feel that we already saw enough photos highlighting the trash and Parr could’ve done without this shot in the book. Also in the shot there are some distracting overlaps– with the old lady in the green/pink having a kid behind her, and the lady in white covering up another mom/daughter passing in the frame.

LON6991

The book is now coming to an end, and Parr displays two images of what symbolizes to me– English stoicism and fortitude. Despite that it is a rainy and overcast day, they are still trying to enjoy their time at the beach on the lawn chairs.

The shot is of course humorous– as you see some of the people flipping up another chair above them– as to block the rain from enjoying their time.  The first time I saw the shot, it put a huge smile on my face and caused me to chuckle quite a bit.

LON6992

The next shot mirrors that of the prior shot– the British enjoying their rest & relaxation regardless of the fact that it is raining and a bit miserable. People still have the courage and tenacity to simply toughen up– and enjoy the view regardless of the weather.

 

LON63274

This shot being the second to last photo in the book is a bit puzzling to me– as although it is a bit quirky (the man sitting on the ground with an ice cream stick looking at his family on the far left of the frame) it isn’t that interesting to me. I would have preferred if they skipped this image in the book and went directly to the concluding image.

But then again, it might have been a good filler image, as the final image is just so strong. Sometimes having a weaker image next to a really strong image makes that strong image that much stronger.

LON6994

The last photo in the book is also my favorite shot in the whole book– of a very surreal moment. You have a woman sunbathing topless– face down on a towel, with what looks like a tractor about to run her over. Her daughter or a little girl on the right seems to be turning over as if to warn her what is about to happen. Then to top it off, you have the man strutting off in the distance, with his hands held behind his back.

Why I love this as a concluding image is that it is such a strong image– and the man walking away from all of it is a great symbol of the viewer leaving the image and thus the book.

Because the final image is also quite surreal — it sticks in the mind of the viewer, and leaves strong concluding thoughts with the viewers.

Conclusion

Although there are a few shots in the book that I think we could’ve done without– overall the book is quite bullet-proof and solid. It is incredible that Parr was able to finish this book in only 2 years of shooting– he must have been quite prolific in visiting and shooting nearly daily.

Not only that, but if it weren’t for this book– we perhaps wouldn’t have a new generation of documentary photographers working in color. During the time, only “real” photographers shot in black and white– only amateurs shot in color. Color was seen as repugnant during the time, but Parr (and all of the other influential American Color Photographers) were able to bring the medium into an art form.

Purchase “The Last Resort”

20140120_130929
Click to see “The Last Resort” on Amazon

If you don’t own a copy, I highly recommend purchasing “The Last Resort” as being a part of your street photography book library. It is very affordable at only around ~$35 USD, and the print quality, binding, and colors in the book are superb.

You can also see the full series of “The Last Resort” on the Magnum Photos website here.

All photographs in this article are copyrighted by Martin Parr / Magnum Photos