‘Harry Benson: Persons of Interest’: A photographer defines an era

Yahoo News Photo Staff

With its unique access to the most intriguing and enduring legends of our time, Harry Benson: Persons of Interest is a compelling document of photojournalism and portraiture.

Benson, an award-winning Scottish photojournalist, spent decades deliberately choosing the right place to be at just the right time. His photographs and accounts of his encounters and adventures capture the lives of the rich, powerful and famous, ranging from Queen Elizabeth II to Amy Winehouse, from Frank Sinatra to Brad Pitt, from Greta Garbo to Kate Moss, from Winston Churchill to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

As the film critic Leonard Maltin put it, “Harry Benson has been witness to the key events of the past half-century and has never failed to capture their most telling moments with his camera.”

Benson marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, photographed the Watts riots, was embedded with troops during the Gulf War, and was at Sen. Robert Kennedy’s side when he was assassinated. He photographed Muhammad Ali, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, President Charles de Gaulle, Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Elizabeth Taylor, Jack Nicholson, Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon and the British royal family. He is the only photographer to have photographed the last 12 U.S. presidents — from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Donald J. Trump.

Benson began his career at the weekly Hamilton Advertiser newspaper and moved to the Scottish Daily Sketch after securing exclusive prison interviews with the Scottish mass murderer Peter Manuel. By 1959, he was working on London’s Fleet Street for Lord Beaverbrook’s Daily Express. He traveled to the United States with the Beatles in 1964, and never looked back.

Under contract to Life magazine for 30 years, Harry has photographed for other major magazines, including Time, Vanity Fair, Newsweek, French Vogue, Quest, Paris Match, Forbes, Town & Country, Architectural Digest, People, and the London Sunday Times Magazine.

The documentary “Harry Benson: Shoot First,” which chronicles Benson’s 65-year career, was released in December 2016 by Magnolia Pictures.

In 2009, Benson was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for service to photography. Harry has received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from St. Andrew’s University, Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow University, and Glasgow Caledonian University. An Honorary Fellow of London’s Royal Photographic Society, he has twice been named the National Press Photographers Association’s Magazine Photographer of the Year. In 2017, he received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Center of Photography.

Benson has had 40 gallery/museum solo exhibitions of his work, and is the author of 16 books, including “Harry Benson: Photographs” (powerHouse Books, 2009), “Bobby Fischer” (powerHouse Books, 2011), and, with Hilary Geary Ross, “New York, New York” (powerHouse Books, 2011) and “Palm Beach People” (powerHouse Books, 2014).

“Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson is available from powerHouse Books.

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<p>Amy Winehouse, London, 2005 (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books) </p>
Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse, London, 2005 (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books)

<p>The Clintons kiss at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock, Ark., 1992. (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books) </p>
The Clintons

The Clintons kiss at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock, Ark., 1992. (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books)

<p>President Ronald and first lady Nancy Reagan at the White House, Washington, D.C., 1985. (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books) </p>
The Reagans

President Ronald and first lady Nancy Reagan at the White House, Washington, D.C., 1985. (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books)

<p>Dolly Parton, Nashville, Tenn., 1976. (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books) </p>
Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton, Nashville, Tenn., 1976. (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books)

<p>Jack Nicholson, Billings, Montana, 1975. (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books) </p>
Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson, Billings, Montana, 1975. (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books)

<p>Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatr, Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball, the Plaza Hotel, New York City, 1966. (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books) </p>
Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra

Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatr, Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball, the Plaza Hotel, New York City, 1966. (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books)

<p>Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Canton, Miss., 1966. (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books) </p>
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Canton, Miss., 1966. (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books)

<p>The Beatles with Cassius Clay, 5th Street Gym, Miami, Florida, 1964. Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali after his win against Sonny Liston. (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books) </p>
Cassius Clay poses with the Beatles

The Beatles with Cassius Clay, 5th Street Gym, Miami, Florida, 1964. Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali after his win against Sonny Liston. (Photograph from “Harry Benson: Persons of Interest” by Harry Benson, published by powerHouse Books)

<p>Book cover of ‘Harry Benson: Persons of Interest.’ (Photograph courtesy of powerHouse) </p>
‘Harry Benson: Persons of Interest’ — A photographer defines an era

Book cover of ‘Harry Benson: Persons of Interest.’ (Photograph courtesy of powerHouse)

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