British Journal of Photography: 29 March 2006

Bob Carlos Clarke, who has died in a train incident aged 55, once said that he became a photographer in order to approach the model who became his wife.

Born in Cork in 1950, Carlos Clarke came to England in 1964 to study art and design at West Sussex College of Art. He went on to study at The London College of Printing, before completing a degree at the Royal College of Art in 1975.

Carlos Clarke became famous in the 1970s and 80s with his controversial images of rubber-clad women. Among those who have since posed for him are Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz and the model Caprice. In the most recent book to feature his work, The World's Top Photographers: Nudes, he quipped that 'a successful nude is one that doubles the heart rate'.

He published five books of his own work, three of which are now out of print, and, along with the photographer's calendars, have become prized collectors' items. The last was Shooting Sex in 2003, which Carlos Clarke produced himself. As photographer Barry Lategan told BJP: 'He had a distinctive way of showing the pulchritude of women.'

Carlos Clarke, however, was much more than a glamour photographer, winning much acclaim for high-profile advertising campaigns, photojournalism, celebrity portraits and his personal artwork. One campaign, for Urban Stone, was hotly debated by newspapers as the most explicit ad campaign ever.

Former BJP editor, Jon Tarrant, who has interviewed Carlos Clarke on numerous occasions, commented: 'Bob Carlos Clarke believed passionately about photography. He did a lot to promote photography generally and was a very good ambassador for the medium. Some people will remember him as an enfant terrible, which he played up to, but he was so much more.'

Eamonn McCabe, former picture editor and photographer at The Guardian, told BJP that Carlos Clarke's book, White Heat, for which he photographed chef Marco Pierre White, was inspirational. 'I wasn't very sure of the world that Bob Carlos Clarke inhabited. Some of the images that he took were quite scary to me.

'But like (Robert) Mapplethorpe's work, I understood why he wanted to take them. His series with Marco Pierre White inspired many a series of images of chefs doing mad things. He made chefs trendy and food magazines are still inspired by his work.'

The photographer was killed by a train at White Hart Lane level crossing in south-west London last Saturday morning (25 March). The incident is not being treated as suspicious, but a spokesman for the British Transport Police told BJP that a witness on the opposite side of the crossing had seen 'what looked like a man leaping over the barrier in front of the train'.

His agent, Ghislain Pascal, commented: 'Whether creating pictures of sexy girls, celebrities, or everyday objects, Bob's photographs were always iconic. He was the last of the greats.

© Incisive Media Investments Ltd 2005


All images on this site are fingerprinted. Copyright and all other rights belong to The Estate of Bob Carlos Clarke. No unauthorised use whatsoever may be made of the images. Please address any enquiries to Ghislain Pascal at Panic Pictures