Philip Jones Griffiths was born in Rhuddlan, Wales. Since his mother ran a small maternity clinic at home he studied pharmacy at Liverpool and at nights he used to work in London as a Manager, during which he was doing photography as a part time. Hence he started as a full-time photographer from 1961, and it was during 1966 the heroics began when he arrived in Vietnam working for Magnum agency.
Things were not happening as expected, it was very tough for magnum to sell his images since all those images showed the suffering and cruelty on Vietnamese, the raw truth was too hard for them.
This made Griffiths to publish Vietnam Inc in 1971. This had a greater influence over American perception over Vietnam war. It turned things upside down, and was a classic act in photojournalism. Till date this book is one of the detailed surveys of any war or conflict.
Some additional facts about Griffith:
- His first picture was of a friend in rowboat.
- Times Magazine called “The best work of photo-reportage of war ever published ” – Vietnam Inc.
- “Not since Goya has anyone portrayed war like Philip Jones Griffiths.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
To Griffiths, “The problem with photography is that you can decontextualize war. What does a picture of a wounded body, or a mother clasping her wounded child mean? Why is it happening? I want to know that. I’m not satisfied just photographing little sorts of visual climaxes to a conflict. I want to know what led up to it and what’s going to happen next. I cannot believe in the sort of fireman approach to doing this kind of work — just automatically going to the next war not knowing where you are, what the background or the history is. It’s like watching a movie with the house lights on and everybody is talking. It seems to me that you’re losing such a valuable opportunity to learn the truth of what’s happening.” – from his Biography.
“The ability to keep things in perspective is very important for a journalist. In a tense situation you need the ability to be there, yet somehow step aside; to keep a cool head and keep working without getting frustrated.” – Philip Jones Griffiths.
Publications of Philip Jones Griffiths
- Vietnam Inc.
- Agent Orange: Collateral Damage in Vietnam
- Unembedded: Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq
- Philip Jones Griffiths: Vietnam At Peace
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