Marlow studied psychology at Manchester University, graduating in 1974. He then started his career as an international photojournalist, working on an Italian cruise liner in the Caribbean in 1975 before joining the Sygma news agency in Paris in 1976. In the late 1970s he worked in Northern Ireland and Lebanon, but soon found that the competition of photojournalism did not suit him. He returned home to Britain, and worked in Liverpool on an 8-year project. He became associated with Magnum photos in 1981 and became a full member in 1986.
In 1991 he received an assignment from the Somme department in France to photograph Amiens for which he created into a medium-format, square-frame camera. Later he began to work abroad again, traveling to Japan, the United States, and other parts of Europe. His photography now is primarily in color. Though well known for his depictions of places, Marlow has also documented politics with a collaboration with Tony Blair.
2006 Marlow was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of The Royal Photographic Society in 2006. These are awarded to distinguished persons having, from their position or attainments, an intimate connection with the science or fine art of photography or the application thereof.
1999, III Premio de Creacion Fotografica Luis Ksado