Assignments in Africa, Alaska and throughout Europe soon followed, and soon after becoming a full-time photographer, and after becoming an Associate member of Magnum Photo Agency, Griffiths went to Vietnam in 1966. He travelled the country photographing the effect on the ordinary Vietnamese and to a lesser extent, combatants. Although many have compared his work to his contemporaries Don McCullin, Tim Page and Larry Burrows, Griffiths was the only photographer to question the morality of the war, I decided to be the one who would show what was really going on in Vietnam. Here was something of profound importance to the whole world. My goal was to present every aspect of the war in a digestible way between two covers of a book. Containing more than 260 images the result was Vietnam Inc., a scathing indictment of American involvement in south-east Asia.
Whilst the horror of the Vietnam War spread to neighbouring Cambodia and Laos and drew towards a conclusion, conflict of a different kind was fermenting far closer to home. By 1972, Northern Ireland was witnessing incidents of sectarian violence on a regular basis. His images from 1972 and 1973 show the incongruities of the conflict as they mix urban warfare with mundane daily life. Though illustrating combatants they suggest an insidious conflict conducted away from the camera, a complete contrast to Vietnam.
First ‘Adventure Club’ package holiday
In the early days of 1973 Griffiths’ eye for cultural collisions led him to document the first ‘Adventure Club’ package holiday to Papua New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean. He joined a wide range of different people on a three week trek through the wilds of one of the world’s least explored and biologically diverse countries. His pictures document not just the primitive tribes but also their curiosity towards the westerners in their midst. The pictures were published in The Sunday Times Magazine and subsequently numerous European publications. He undertook another another trip to the region shortly afterwards and concentrated on photographing the native tribes people and their ceremonies such as pig killing and Turnim Head ceremony. These photographs were also published in The Sunday Times Magazine.
In 1973, Jones Griffiths went to photograph the Yom Kippur War, and then worked in Cambodia from 1973 to 1975. He also served as President of the Magnum Photo Agency from 1980 to 1985.
Philip Jones Griffiths visited more than a hundred countries in his career as a photographer, often seeking out stories himself rather than waiting for commissions. Always on the side of the underdog and the marginalised his photographs have appeared in every major magazine in the world and continue to be in demand.