Tony Ray-Jones (1941–1972)

Tony Ray-Jones was born in Somerset in 1941 and died of leukaemia at the age of 31. In his short lifetime he created a distinctive body of work documenting the lifestyles and habits of the English – a subject that he was able to see with some detachment after spending several years at Yale and in New York. The book that brought his work to public attention, A Day Off – An English Journal, was published posthumously in 1974. Ray-Jones’s work has been hugely influential to subsequent generations of photographers, including Martin Parr, who has said:

The thing that impressed us most of all was looking at the work of Tony Ray Jones… Suddenly here were some of the ideas and thinking that we had seen from the American greats… taken into an English context. All the surreal qualities and the off- beat way of looking at things were there in Tony Ray Jones, so he became sort of like a benchmark of what was possible…
Martin Parr (quoted in Williams, 1992, cited in National Museum of Photography Film & Television, 2002)

References and resources

The Guardian (2013) ‘Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr: English rituals of the 60s’. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/sep/20/tony-ray-jones-martin-parr-exhibition [accessed 31/01/18]
Lovane, M. (2011) ‘Tony Ray-Jones (1941-1972)’. Available from: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/tony-ray-jones-tony-ray-jones-1941-1972 [accessed 31/01/18]
National Museum of Photography Film & Television (2002) Martin Parr Photographic Works 1971–2000. Bradford, UK: National Museum of Photography Film & Television.
The Science Museum (2013) ‘Only In England’. Available from: https://group.sciencemuseum.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/only_in_england_brochure.pdf [accessed 31/01/18]
Williams, V. (1992) Interview with Martin Parr. Oral History of British Photography, British Library National Sound Archive

Tony Ray-Jones, © The National Media Museum, Bradford, UK