Tony Ray-Jones

(1941—1972) photographer

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(1941–72), observer of English life. The youngest son of a painter and etcher, Ray-Jones learned about photography in London before travelling to the USA and studying at Yale. He worked for American advertising firms and magazines and regularly recorded New York street life. He won more commercial assignments on returning to Britain in 1965, and his touring show for the Institute of Contemporary Arts was the organization's first to feature a photographer. Recognition continued on both sides of the Atlantic, and in his last active year he was employed by both the San Francisco Art Institute and London's Sunday Times. From 1966 to 1971, between other assignments, he took photographs for a book, A Day Off: An English Journal. It explored the English leisure scene during a period of far-reaching social change and included coverage of seaside resorts, society events, and local festivals. The images combined affection and understanding with a sense of humour and an appreciation of the idiosyncratic. Ray-Jones died of leukaemia aged 30, but his book, published posthumously in 1974, was warmly received and influenced a new generation of documentary photographers.

From The Oxford Companion to the Photograph in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Photography and Photographs.

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