Mark Box: the photographer behind @humanofcambridgeMark Box, with permission for Varsity

If you don’t follow @humanofcambridge, you’re missing out. The ‘Human of Cambridge’ himself, Mark Box, documents the Cambridge community through photographing the cities rich colours, street style, and distinctive hair. By striking up conversations with strangers he passes on the street, Mark shares images which embody daily moments of positivity and connection to over five thousand followers. So what does Mark’s life look like?

What’s the story behind Humans of Cambridge?

Originally from Manchester, Mark has always had an interest in photography: “I’ve always enjoyed capturing things”. He experimented with different cameras but found his calling in a 35mm film camera, which was his companion on nights out: “I used to blag my way into nightclubs as the club photographer!” Immersed in the atmosphere, Mark would capture moments of joy and chaos on the dance floor.

“I used to blag my way into nightclubs as the club photographer!”

He even cut his teeth in photography in none other than Cambridge’s nightclub scene in the mid-to-late noughties. Amongst other Cambridge nightclubs, he could be found at discontinued club nights at Soul Tree – known today as Lola Lo.

Having been offered some London gigs (this time as an official club photographer) by a Cambridge DJ, Mark also took opportunities to branch out into festival photography, still seeking to capture the liveliest and most colourful individuals on film. It wasn’t unusual for Mark to work a 9-5 shift, catch the train into London to photograph iconic London venues until four in the morning, crash in Muswell Hill, before heading back to the day job and trying to edit some photos before the cycle began again.

Some humans of CambridgeMark Box, with permission for Varsity

Free drinks were a perk of the job, but “as soon as a bit of alcohol touched your lips, you’d lose all coordination,” Mark reminisced. Nevertheless, “you’d get drunk on the atmosphere!”

It was during the first lockdown that Humans of Cambridge really began to take off. Mark continued his interest in documenting interesting passersby, energy channelled from his days spent in clubs and festivals, by taking portraits from a two-metre social distance.

What does a day in the life look like?

A typical day for Mark includes working in the University Library archives, in his current position digitising the work of Charles Darwin. There’s a short window between 1pm and 1.45pm (Mark’s lunch break) where you have the best chance of being photographed in Cambridge city centre. Mark always approaches people with a compliment: it builds them up and sets a positive tone for the conversation. Colour is important for Mark too. His process revolves around settling the object into a background by swiftly setting up a shot where the colours featured in their look match the tones of the setting around them. A film lover, Mark uses compositional knowledge from cinematic photography to adeptly set up shots whilst getting to know his object a little, before moving on.

What are the aims of the project?

The more widely followed Humans of New York project is certainly an inspiration for Mark, but he differentiates himself from his namesake by focusing primarily on the eye-catching style of Cambridge individuals. The aesthetics lead, and the stories comes second. He lets people share as much or as little about themselves as they want. Through conversations with the people he meets and setting up their portraits, Mark guides his objects to tell their own stories about how their day is going through their expressions and postures.


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For Mark, it’s about bringing people closer together and taking an interest in those we pass on the street every day. One student Mark photographed during a lockdown sent the Instagram post to her parents, who she hadn’t seen for a while. Months later, Mark was able to meet the student’s family, getting to know them and sharing life stories. “We need to meet good people,” Mark says: his photography is a way of fulfilling this need for connection and positivity.

And what’s one piece of advice Mark has for the humans of Cambridge?

“All it takes is a smile” Mark says. The success of his project lies in the ease and light-heartedness captured in his images. His objects seem laidback, which likely stems from the kindness and humility he demonstrates in his artistic process. His one goal? To encourage us to get to know one another better – even if that just starts with a smile.