Between 2010 and 2012 Peter Marlow photographed the Nave’s of all forty two of England’s Anglican cathedrals using only natural light at dawn. He had worked on a previous project on Cathedrals in 2007 for a set of Royal Mail stamps. But for this project, he decided to increase the film size and quality, switching to a Sinar F1 monorail camera mounted on the largest tripod Manfroto makes. Said Marlow: “This was more equipment than I could actually carry, and few cathedrals have public parking spaces near the entrance. I tried to get special permission to park outside the west doors, and even invented a very official-looking parking permit to stick on the windscreen, but if that was not possible I would struggle with one of my US-made Porter Cases, which converted into a handy trolley.” Pictured here is Coventry Cathedral, also known as St Michael’s, England.

By blending observation and wit with reason, I want my work to generate a sense of the unexpected, the hidden, and the seemingly spontaneous

Peter Marlow
Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos

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.

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. Peter Marlow died in 2016.

© Peter Marlow | Magnum Photos

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