HARRY BENSON (ECOSSE 1929)
HARRY BENSON was born in Scotland. The 88-year-old Glaswegian photographer, has photographed a wide range of contemporary personalities: from the Queen of England to the Beatles, from Jakie Kennedy to Marcelo Mastroianni, from Kate Moss to Muhammad Ali … and to all the American presidents since Eisenhower. His pictures have appeared in Life, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker. He took over a hundred cover shots for People. Benson was assigned to travel with The Beatles on their inaugural American tour in 1964. One of his most recognizable images shows the band in a gleeful pillow fight in a hotel room in Paris. Other celebrities Benson has photographed include Bobby Fischer, Michael Jackson, who allowed him access to his bedroom, and Elizabeth Taylor, whom Benson photographed before and after her brain surgery. He has also photographed political figures, including every US president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, and covered war zones. Benson was standing next to Robert F. Kennedy when the Senator was shot on June 5, 1968 and has remarked on the difficulty of steeling himself in order to document the historic moment: « I kept telling myself ‘this is for history, pull yourself together, fail tomorrow, not today’. Benson has been the subject of many exhibitions, including one organized by the Scottish National Portrait Galley at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. He has published several books. Benson was the recipient of the 2005 Lucie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Portrait Photography and the 2005 American Photo Award for Photography. He has twice been named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association (1981 and 1985). He was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Scottish Press Photography Awards in April 2006. Benson was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society in 2009. Benson was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours. In 2014, he took an official photographic portrait of the Queen, commissioned by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. This was over fifty years after his first portrait of the Queen, taken when she opened a coal mine in 1957. He was the subject of a BBC Scotland documentary titled Photography: Harry Benson (1985), directed by Ken MacGregor and written by William McIlvanney. Fourteen books of his photographs have been published including RFK: A PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL; HARRY BENSON’S AMERICA; HARRY BENSON: 50 YEARS IN PHOTOGRAPHS; HARRY BENSON’S GLASGOW; and ONCE THERE WAS A WAY: PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE BEATLES BY HARRY BENSON and A 60 year retrospective entitled HARRY BENSON: PHOTOGRAPHS (2009). Two new books are being published in 2017.