While tending to her lawn with what appears to be a vacuum cleaner, a woman in a housecoat glances at the machine gun-toting British soldier crouched behind a bush in her backyard. It’s just another day in Northern Ireland in 1973 as captured by Philip Jones Griffiths, the Welsh-born photojournalist who died yesterday at the age of 72. Griffiths, who joined Magnum Photos in 1966 and served as the agency’s president in the 1980s, started his career freelancing for the London Observer and went on to cover the Algerian War, the Vietnam War, and the Yom Kippur War. His coverage of the major upheavals of the second half of the 20th century ultimately took him to more than 120 countries and led Henri Cartier-Bresson to write that “not since Goya has anyone portrayed war like Philip Jones Griffiths.”
“It was Philip’s consummate skill as a picture maker, carefully able to draw the viewer closer and closer to his subjects through his emotionally-charged compositions that lent such power to his work,” said Magnum Photos president Stuart Franklin in a statement issued yesterday. “Philip was always concerned with individuals — their personal and intimate suffering more than any particular class or ideological struggle.”
According to Franklin, Griffiths recently completed Recollections, a new book of his lesser-known studies of British life in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and in the last few weeks before his death, he worked to compile his life’s work documenting Cambodia. Below is Griffiths’ 1985 shot of schoolchildren near Ho Chi Minh City during festivities to celebrate the end of the war. More photos after the jump.