My aim is to communicate something of the spirit and the mentality of the English, their habits and their way of life, the ironies that exist in the way they do things, partly through their traditions and partly through the nature of their environment and their mentality. For me there is something very special about the English ‘way of life’ and I wish to record it from my particular point of view before it becomes Americanised and disappears.
Tony Ray-Jones was a documentary photographer even before the term was coined. He studied in the US at Yale and returned to the UK in 1965, it was then whilst doing work for the Radio Times and other publications, that he decided to turn his camera on the English at leisure. At the time, his photographs were considered “exotic”.
In 1968 his attempts to publish his England by the Sea album, which served as a basis for the A Day Off (which was published after his death), came to nothing – the publishers claimed that the album would raise no interest.
He was a major influence on Martin Parr, but sadly died at the age of 31 from leukaemia.
Here Martin Parr talks about his influence on him.
The Guardian have a super collection of his work
The critic Sean O’Hagan said:
in his short life he helped create a way of seeing that has shaped several generations of British photography