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From Forensics to Food: A Chat With Photographer Mark Carr
Photo Mark Carr

From Forensics to Food: A Chat With Photographer Mark Carr

Mark Carr had a great job, well paid and well respected in his field, but throughout all this, he had a food itch that he just needed to scratch

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I love food - anyone who knows me knows that! Food shoots are always much more pleasant and controlled than anything I did on the forensic side.

Mark Carr had a solid career, a successful defense solicitor working on criminal cases, ‘defending the underdog.’ Then onto a solid job as a forensic photographer, re-creating crime scenes and working to verify the truth of digital images submitted in court, but throughout all this he had one lingering passion - a passion for food that he just had to follow.

“I have always enjoyed food. My parents always loved going out for meals and from an early age I would get to try restaurants and different food. The joy of food nowadays, there is such a variety available compared to when I was growing up in the sixties and seventies.”

After over 20 years working as a solicitor and forensic photographer Mark finally decided to take this early passion and turn it into a career as a food photographer, a difficult decision as he admits that, compared with forensics, food photography is more difficult from the technical and business side: “Photography is a tough business because there is lots of competition and many photographers trying to turn a hobby into a business. Food photography is also regarded as technically difficult...I had nine years experience before I tackled Michelin star food.”

Mark explains that he has found some similarities between forensic and food photography, “The main thing is attention to detail and working quickly, often in less than ideal situations.  You also cant afford to make mistakes so you need to get things right first time.” He also explains that the main differences between the two professions is what makes him so happy he switched. Forensic is flat often meant to be as accurate a representation as possible, clear lighting but not very creative. Unlike the texture, color and creativity afforded to Mark in the world of food.

He now spends much of his time traveling the world to take photographs of dishes prepared by some of the best chefs on the scene. Massimo Bottura in Italy, The Roca Brothers in Spain, revealing that he’d love to shoot Heston Blumenthal because “his food is so theatrical and visual and that lends itself to what I can do with a camera, trying to bring out the skill of the chef and the concept of the dish.”

Mark’s passionate about the food and the chefs and it’s hard to imagine him in white overalls at a crime scene, or in court facing the judge, food and forensics seem so far apart, Mark agrees with a smile: “Where as I was often working alone and at night in areas where you were mindful for your own safety and that of the kit I now get to visit great hotels and restaurants, meet with inspirational chefs and very often get fed as well!"

He's followed a food passion and it's paid off, something that more and more people are doing with blogs, food writing and food photography. It's difficult to make a living from a love of food but it can be done and it's people like Mark and Rachel Quigley, a lawyer who gave it all up to study at Le Cordon Bleu, that make us realise it is possible.

Mark has some sound words of advice, "First do not get hung up on kit and technical worries. Second understand the client and the market. I had the advantage of having worked in a very hard-nosed business for many years first. Finally do not expect to make a fortune or to be famous overnight. You will not get a big job or a big named client without putting the hours of practice in and that means start small and never turn the chance of a getting some experience. My best secret is practice, practice, practice."

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