Peter Marlow (19 January 1952 – 21 February 2016) was a British photographer and photojournalist, and member of Magnum Photos
Born in Kenilworth, England, Marlow studied psychology at Manchester University, graduating in 1974. He began his photography career in 1975 working on an Italian cruise liner in the Caribbean before joining the Sygma news agency in Paris in 1976. In the 1970s Marlow worked in Northern Ireland, Angola, The Philippines and Lebanon primarily as a war photographer, but soon found that the competition of photojournalism did not suit him.
"I did get some very good pictures and was doing a lot of conflict work, but I just realised I was never ever going to be Don McCullin. And actually, in certain situations, I was very, very scared."
He returned home to Britain and worked in Liverpool on an eight-year project, Liverpool – Looking out to Sea, which documented what he perceived to be a decline of the city under Margaret Thatcher.
He became associated with Magnum Photos in 1980 and became a full member in 1986, having been attracted to the freedom the agency gives its photographers to work on personal projects. Alongside Chris Steele-Perkins
, he founded Magnum's London office in 1987. He served as the agency's president twice and was vice-president numerous times. The photographer Martin Parr
said it was “difficult to overestimate”
Marlow's contribution to Magnum".
He also worked regularly for The Sunday Times
in the mid-1980s. In 1991 he received an assignment from the Somme department in France to photograph Amiens. Later he began to work abroad again, traveling to Japan, the United States, and other parts of Europe. His later photography is primarily in color. Though well known for his depictions of places, Marlow also documented politics with a collaboration with Tony Blair.
Marlow died on 21 February 2016 from influenza contracted during a stem cell transplant as a treatment for multiple myeloma.
Although gifted in the language of photojournalism, Peter Marlow was not a photojournalist. He was initially, however, one of the most enterprising and successful young British news photographers, and in 1976 joined the Sygma agency in Paris. He soon found that he lacked the necessary appetite for the job while on assignment in Lebanon and Northern Ireland during the late 1970s; he discovered that the stereotype of the concerned photojournalist disguised the disheartening reality of dog-eat-dog competition between photographers hunting fame at all costs.
After those days, Marlow’s aesthetic shifted – in that he made mainly color photographs – but his approach was unchanged. The color of incidental things became central to his pictures in the same way that the shape and mark of things had been central to his black-and-white work.
Marlow had come full circle. He started his career as an international photojournalist, returned to Britain to examine his own experience, and discovered a new visual poetry that enabled him to understand his homeland. Having found this poetry, he took it back on the road: he photographed as much in Japan, the USA and elsewhere in Europe as he did in the UK.
Source: Magnum Photos