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Harry Benson

His Life and Work

In his life, Harry Benson, the world's most successful and prolific photojournalist and portrait photographer, has been called upon to photograph every American president from Dwight D Eisenhower to Barack Obama;he has marched with and photographed Martin Luther King Jr. in the period of the Civil Rights Movement; he was present at the Watts Riots in Los Angeles, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans; he photographed the Berlin Wall as it was built, and he photographed it being torn down. He has undertaken assignments in conflict zones including Ireland, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, Israel and the West Bank.

Harry Benson was born in Glasgow and began his photojournalism career working for a photo agency on the banks of Loch Lomond, before his first break working as a photographer for the Hamilton Advertiser. In 1956, Harry began working for the Daily Sketch before moving to the Daily Express in 1958.

It was on leaving for an assignment in Africa in 1964 that Harry had a call from the photo editor of the Daily Express, asking him to accompany The Beatles on their tour in Paris. The defining photographs which Harry took of the band in their pillowfight in these early years of Beatlemania would simultaneously launch his career.

In his time contracted to LIFE Magazine from 1970 to 2000, Harry’s photographs appeared in major magazines including Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest, Time, Newsweek and Paris Match. And, in 2009, Harry Benson was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and received his honour at Buckingham Palace in March of the same year.

Harry has had over 40 gallery solo exhibitions and fourteen books of his photographs have been published. In 2009 Harry received an Honorary Fellowship in the Royal Photographic Society, he has twice received the Leica Medal of Excellence and in 2006 received a lifetime achievement award from the Scottish Press Photographers Association.

His photographs can also be found in the permanent collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.

For more information on the exhibition of his work at Mallett, please visit our events page.

  • Harry Benson
  • Harry Benson
  • Harry Benson
  • Harry Benson
  • Harry Benson
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