Ray-Jones, Holroyd Anthony 1941 - 1972


Tony Ray-Jones was a British photographer. Born Holroyd Anthony Ray-Jones in Wells, Somerset, Ray-Jones was the youngest son of Raymond Ray-Jones (1886–1942), a painter and etcher who died when Tony was only eight months old, and Effie Irene Pearce, who would work as a physiotherapist. After his father's death, Tony's mother took the family to Tonbridge in Kent, to Little Baddow (near Chelmsford, Essex), and then to Hampstead in London. He was educated at Christ's Hospital (Horsham).

Tony Ray-Jones studied at the London School of Printing, where he concentrated on graphic design. In the early 1960s he obtained a scholarship that enabled him to join Yale University School of Art. In 1963 he was given assignments for the magazines Car and Driver and Saturday Evening Post.

Eager to use photography for more creative purposes, Ray-Jones went to the Design Lab held by the art director Alexey Brodovitch in the Manhattan studio of Richard Avedon. Ray-Jones also got to know a number of New York "street photographers", such as Joel Meyerowitz, a fellow Brodovich student at the time. Ray-Jones graduated from Yale in 1964 and photographed the United States until his departure for Britain in late 1965. From then until 1970, he lived and worked at 102 Gloucester Place, Marylebone.

On his arrival in Britain, he was shocked at the lack of interest in non-commercial photography, let alone in publication of books presenting it. He was also unsure of what subject he might pursue, but the idea of a survey of the English at leisure gradually took shape, and he was able to work on this and at the same time portrait and other work for the Radio Times, Sunday newspapers and magazines.

He returned to the United States in January 1971 to work as a teacher at the San Francisco Art Institute. He was soon able to busy himself working on assignments for both the British and the US press.

Ray-Jones's non-assignment photographs were first published in the October 1968 issue of Creative Camera.

In late 1971, Ray-Jones started to suffer from exhaustion. Early the next year leukaemia was diagnosed, and he started chemotherapy. Medical treatment in the US was too expensive, so Ray-Jones flew to London on 10 March and immediately entered the Royal Marsden Hospital; he died there on 13 March.