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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 March 2008, 17:20 GMT
Vietnam war photojournalist dies
Philip Jones Griffiths:
A life behind the lens

A Welsh photojournalist renowned for his coverage of the Vietnam war has died at the age of 72.

Philip Jones Griffiths, who was born in Rhuddlan, Denbighshire, died on Tuesday at his London home after a cancer battle, his agency Magnum said.

His work in Vietnam was collated into a book, published in 1971, which became crucial in challenging attitudes to the war in the United States.

He also photographed conflicts in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Bosnia.

Mr Jones Griffiths left Wales at the age of 16 but has said that his upbringing as a Welshman was the basis for everything he did.

He took pictures with a Kodak Brownie camera from an early age but after studying chemistry at Liverpool University, he spent 10 years in science.

He launched his career as a freelance photographer for the Observer newspaper in 1961, covering the Algerian war in 1962 before travelling across central Africa.

In a career that took him to more than 120 countries, he covered everything from Buddhism in Cambodia, drought in India, poverty in Texas and the legacy of the Gulf war in Kuwait.

The only thing we photographers really want more than life, more than sex, more than anything, is to be invisible
Philip Jones Griffiths

He was also president of the famous Magnum picture agency for five years.

Current Magnum president Stuart Franklin said: "Philip enriched all our lives with his courage, his empathy, his passion, his wit and his wisdom; and for many he gave to photojournalism its moral soul.

"He died as he wanted so passionately that we should live - in peace."

From 1966 to 1971, Mr Jones Griffiths reported on the Vietnam war, publishing a photojournalism book focused on the suffering of civilians.

Vietnam Inc galvanised the anti-war movement in the United States and helped to turn public opinion against the war.

It is now hailed as a classic of photojournalism.

He published three more books since then: Agent Orange which looked at the effect the chemical agent orange used by Americans in the Vietnam War had on generations of the country's people; Vietnam At Peace, which chronicled the history of the country following the war and Dark Odyssey, which was a collection of his best photos.

In an interview with the BBC news website published in 2005, Mr Jones Griffiths said: "The only thing we photographers really want more than life, more than sex, more than anything, is to be invisible."

Mr Jones Griffiths' work was the subject of a US exhibition in 2005 and 2006 titled 50 years on the Frontline.

He also contributed to the BBC4 documentary series The Genius of Photography which was broadcast last year.

He is survived by two daughters.

Don McCullin said his friend had "an extraordinary eye"

Turning the camera back on Vietnam
26 Apr 05 |  Asia-Pacific


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