The Non-Conformists features Martin Parr’s first major body of work from the mid-1970s, published here for the first time in book form. A wonderful and charming surprise for Parr enthusiasts and fans of traditional reportage, this body of black-and-white imagery predates the cutting color work that earned him his fame in the 1980s. In 1975, fresh out of art school, Martin Parr found poor footing in the London photography scene, so he moved to the picturesque Yorkshire Pennine mill town of Hebden Bridge. Over a period of five years, he documented the town in photographs, showing in particular the aspects of traditional life that were beginning to decline. Susie Parr, whom he had met in Manchester, joined him in documenting a year in the life of a small Methodist chapel, together with its farming community.
In words and pictures, the Parrs vividly and affectionately document cobbled streets, flat-capped mill workers, hardy gamekeepers, henpecked husbands, and jovial shop owners. The best Parr photographs are interleaved with Susie Parr’s detailed background descriptions of the society they observed.