Paul Martin

Images here are are from V&A Images are contain V&A watermarks

Paul Martin was a British photographer (born in France) who became an early exponent of street photography. Much of his work is candid photographs of street life, and also holidaymakers at the seaside.

What I find interesting is just how much his work has in common with later photographers. In many ways this isn’t really surprising; in any ‘straight’ photography the result is as much dependent on the subject as the artist, and although the clothes may have changed people are still people. I don’t want to detract from any subsequent photographer’s work, but rather to highlight to myself as much as anything the difficulty in coming up with something new.
The humour in this image from the late 19th century is reminiscent of some of Martin Parr’s’ seaside work

On Yarmouth Sands, photo Paul Martin. Great Yarmouth, England, 1892
On Yarmouth Sands, photo Paul Martin. Great Yarmouth, England, 1892

(view at
There is a strong natural feel to this picture, and works unposed scene acts against the general static feel to much 19th century photography.

Children in groups, as here, is a subject that has been used by, among others, Bill Brandt.
Street Fountain, Battersea, photo Paul Martin. England, late 19th century
(view at

What makes Paul Martin’s work extremely interesting is to be able use them as window; the candid nature of much of his work allows the sort of empathic understanding that Walton describes. Martin does not add much – if any – authorial intent to his photographs, but instead he is simply documenting what was there. It means, as Walton says, “the viewer of a photograph sees, literally, the scene that was photographed”(Walton:252).

Walton, K. L. (s.d.) Transparent Pictures: On the Nature of Photographic Realism. In: Photography and Philosophy. Directed by Walton, K.L. (s.l.). pp.14–49. At:

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