Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

Tony Ray-Jones’ Notebooks


I saw that the new Media Space has opened at the Science Museum in London and have already decided that I should give it a visit while I’m working down here. The inaugural exhibition is “Only in England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr”. I hadn’t heard of Tony Ray-Jones before reading about the exhibition, so I was interested to see that there is an article on him in the September edition of the British Journal of Photography [1].

I’ll comment on Mr Ray-Jones’ photographic oeuvre when I get a chance to see it, but what I found fascinating was this BJP article that focused not on his photographic work, but on his notebooks, now part of the archive of the National Media Museum in Bradford (of which the new Media Space is a southern offshoot). He was an avid note-taker, and the BJP article reproduces pages from his ring-bound notebooks that he used to document his thoughts and his work.

I particularly liked his ‘Approach’ note.

Tony Ray-Jones 'Approach'

Tony Ray-Jones – ‘Approach’

It’s a handwritten manifesto, or more likely aide memoire, with his 13 rules/reminders for photography. I think I should have something like this, to make me remember what’s important. It might not have exactly the same points on – his genre was very much people photography – but I do like the simplicity of having a list of ‘commandments’ to stick to!

1. BJP (2013) Archive: Tony Ray-Jones’ Notebooks, British Journal of Photography, September 2013


3 thoughts on “Tony Ray-Jones’ Notebooks

  1. That’s really interesting as you always assume experienced photographers don’t have the same issues as the rest of us but given his list this clearly isn’t the case. I think you are right that some well chosen points based up your own list of photography ‘frustrations’ seems a good way to get you in the right frame of mind when going on shoots.

  2. Pingback: My shooting checklist | Art of Photography

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