Philip Jones Griffiths was deeply influenced by the humanistic ideals of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Magnum’s co-founder, who thought photography could be of genuine benefit to the progress and wellbeing of mankind. Though he photographed subjects as diverse as Buddhism in Cambodia, droughts in India and poverty in Texas, his sensibility was a continuous thread. Here, he captures a London scene in 1959: Downing Street was open to the public in those days and each afternoon the same nannies would pause to chat up the policemen on duty.

I took delight in being the silent observer in rowdy crowds, the all-too-visible invisible man

Philip Jones Griffiths

Born in Rhuddlan, Wales, Philip Jones Griffiths studied pharmacy in Liverpool and worked in London while photographing part-time for the Manchester Guardian. In 1961, he became a full-time freelancer for the Observer, covering the Algerian War in 1962, in Central Africa, Asia and Vietnam.

Griffiths’ assignments, often self-engineered, have taken him to more than 120 countries. He continued to work for major publications such as Life and Geo on stories such as Buddhism in Cambodia, droughts in India, poverty in Texas, the re-greening of Vietnam, and the legacy of the Gulf War in Kuwait.

Philip Jones Griffiths died at home in West London on 19th March 2008.

© Philip Jones Griffiths | Magnum Photos

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