Peter Marshall

I was born in 1945 on the western outskirts of London, a few miles from where I now live. Money was always in short supply when I was a kid, and photography was perhaps a single black and white film in the Box Brownie during the annual seaside fortnight. Possibly my first interest in it came from a large pile of elderly National Geographic magazines, thrown out our way by a more affluent relative. Growing up I had no perception that anyone like me could make a living by photography; I studied Maths and Science and went to university to read Chemistry.

During my seven years away from home in Manchester, mainly as a student, I possibly put about half a dozen films through the camera which, as a teenager, it had taken me several years to scrape together the seven pounds (11$ at current exchange rates - but probably around $20 then) to buy and had hardly ever been able to afford to use. The results were not particularly encouraging and I had other things to do - student politics and falling in love were high on my sixties agenda. However, a training year for teaching when I was 26 enabled me to pick up my old interests in a more practical way. Firstly I met a real photographer who was doing the same course, secondly I was able to take options in photography, media studies (then still being invented by my teacher for this course, Jim Halloran) and film studies as well as my main course, and thirdly I could spend any spare time behind the lens of a TV camera helping unpaid with educational programs and research.

From then on, photography has played an important part in my life. I've taught it - along with other subjects - as a part of my full-time job and also in a number of workshops on areas including various alternative processes and the work of Man Ray.

My first real photographic project, in Paris in 1973, was published in a photo magazine later that year. Since then the major projects I have worked on include:

Since 1976 almost all of my work has centred on London. This has included a continuing survey of the buildings and townscape of London in general and various specific areas, transport in London - including the Docklands Light Railway and buses, events and demonstrations etc and more general street photography. Parts of this work are in the collection of the National Building Record of the UK Government's Department of National Heritage. Some of the work was undertaken together with other members of the group 'London Documentary Photographers' and has been shown at the Museum of London and other venues in the city.

I have also been active in two other groups of photographers in the London area. Framework, which I helped to found in the early 1980's was one of - if not the - first UK groups of 'independent' photographers and ran many group exhibitions over its ten year life. I edit the newsletter for London Independent Photography, a group of around 120 photographers in the Greater London region.

Over the years I have written about photography for a number of magazines - articles on my own work and on other photographers, book and exhibition reviews and the occasional technical piece.

I remain a strong believer in a photography that is in essence documentary. Even where formal qualities may be much in evidence, the subject matter and what I have to say about it are still both what provides the occasion for the picture and makes it worth making.

Return to Peter's Meridian page.