Philip Jones Griffiths was born in Rhuddlan on the 18th of February 1936, the eldest of the 3 sons of Joseph Griffiths, manager of the local London Midland & Scottish Railways Freight Service, and his wife Catherine née Jones, a midwife. Fluent in Welsh, Philip was educated locally at Llanelwy Grammar School where he played prop forward.
He took up photography at the age of 14, and 2 years later joined Rhyl Camera Club. Before leaving school he was photographing weddings for the Rhyl Leader and working as a photographer at the nearby Golden Sands Holiday Camp.
After leaving school he became an apprentice pharmacist at Boots the Chemist in Rhyl where he was able to borrow cameras for the weekend. It was his contention that between the ages of sixteen and eighteen he learned to take pictures, I got all that beautiful landscape stuff out of the way in North Wales and was ready for the rest of the world.
He went on to study Pharmacy at Liverpool University where he began part time work for the Manchester Guardian, and as a freelance cameraman for Granada Television. In 1959 undertook employment as a pharmacist for Boots the Chemist in Piccadilly, where he combined pharmacy with freelance photographic assignments for The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Observer until becoming a full-time photographer for the latter in 1961.
Jones Griffiths never married, saying it was a “bourgeois” notion, but that he had had 'significant' relationships with Donna Ferrato and Heather Holden. He died of cancer on 19 March 2008, and is survived by his two daughters, Fanella Ferrato and Katherine Holden.