There is an exhibition at the Martin Parr Foundation of work by Tony Ray-Jones.
The exhibition is on until December 21st 2019.
Ray-Jones was a pioneer and an inspiration to Parr.
“Tony Ray-Jones was one of my initial inspirations. His imagery showed me what was possible photographing my own country.” – Martin Parr
He is famous for photographing the eccentricities of English life. After studying in the US, he returned to England. Between 1966-68, Ray-Jones travelled around England in a VW camper van, capturing the customs and peculiarities of the British people, on the street, on holidays in seaside towns, and at social events. The ubiquitous class system so prevalent in 60’s Britain was a constant theme.
As he explained to Creative Camera in 1968:
I have tried to show the sadness and the humour in a gentle madness that prevails in a people. The situations are sometimes ambiguous and unreal, and the juxtaposition of elements seemingly unrelated, and the people are real. This, I hope helps to create a feeling of fantasy. Photography can be a mirror and reflect life as it is, but I also think that perhaps it is possible to walk, like Alice, through a Looking-Glass, and find another kind of world with the camera.
During his time in the States at the Yale School of Art, he knew and was influenced by young American documentary photographers like Gary Winogrand and Joel Meyerowitz.
Returning home in 1965 he was full of ideas with notebooks full of lists and what to do next.
“Get more involved (talk to people),” began one typical list of these notes to self. “Stay with the subject matter (be patient). See if everything in the background relates to the subject matter. NO MIDDLE DISTANCE.”
There followed six years of photography that defined him, where he searched for the essence of Englishness. As the Guardian shows here it was an England that was not so swinging. The Ray-Jones version was how the 60’s really looked
In 1971 he was back in the States with his wife Anna working at a teaching position at the San Francisco Art Institute. He was diagnosed with leukaemia in 1972. He returned to England to be treated at the Royal Marsden Hospital but died aged 31.
I have curated some of his work here
Camera Wrist Strap
I have avoided dropping my camera so many times using a simple wrist strap like this one. Cameras and expensive lenses do not bounce!