Tony Ray-Jones’ attitude towards life was to expose its “gentle madness” and “to walk, like Alice, though a Looking-Glass, and find another kind of world with the camera.”

He preferred to photograph situations that are “ambiguous and unreal, and the juxtaposition of elements seemingly unrelated, and the people are real.”

The is no better example of the humor and gentle madness in Ray-Jones’ photographs than Picnic at Glyndebourne. The contrast of the formally attired couple seated at a folding-table in a meadow oblivious to a group of nearby cows seems unreal. The reality is that it’s a snapshot of Glyndebourne opera lovers picnicking on the lawn during the interval. The fantasy here is that the picnickers and the cows are not in the same field. They are, in fact, separated by an unseen “ha-ha,” a ditch that keeps the Glyndebourne crowd out of the cow field.

Featured Image: A traditional picnic on the lawn at Glyndebourne Opera House. Tony Ray-Jones. Picnic at Glyndebourne (1967), black and white gelatin print on paper. Copyright Estate of Tony Ray-Jones.

See: A Day off: An English Journal, London: Thames & Hudson,1974; Creative Camera (October 1968); Richard Erhlich. Tony Ray-Jones. New York: Aperture; Russell Roberts. Tony Ray-Jones. London: Chris Boot Ltd, 2004