After receiving the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Center for Photography in New York on April 24, we met photographer Harry Benson who answered our questions with great sincerity and a lot of humor. Needless to say I was very excited to meet the photographer, especially for an amateur photographer like me.
Born in Scotland, Harry Benson began his career at Fleet Street in London. Later, he was asked to follow the Beatles to cover their first American tour. Benson hesitated because he said he was a “serious photojournalist, not a rock’n’roll photographer.” But he ended up accepting and he confides that he is happy to has changed his mind at the time.
From then on, his career took another turn. Under contract with Life magazine for 30 years, he was able to take pictures of political icons (12 US presidents from Eisenhower to Obama, Queen Elizabeth II, Churchill), actors (Sophia Loren, Jack Nicholson), musicians (James Brown, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones) but also Andy Warhol and many others.
Harry Benson also was on the spot when tragic events occurred such as the assassination of Robert Kennedy. He also infiltrated the ranks of the KKK and frequented the IRA. If that doesn’t tell you that the man lives dangerously, I don’t know what is!
And speaking of which, he said, “I did not want to die. I was a photographer not a war reporter and I did not want to die doing my job.”
The exhibition at Galerie Got
Presenting the photojournalist Harry Benson for the first time in Québec, Galerie Got is exposing fifty photographs of the artist. These include a selection of photos of the Beatles during their European and American tours between 1964 and 1966, a photograph of Charles de Gaulle in Montréal during his famous speech and his well-known “Vive le Québec libre!”
Also the unique color photograph of deceased singer Amy Whinehouse is exhibited.
“She was nice, fragile and talented. But God doesn’t know you’re a celebrity,” he says.
You will be able to admire and for the luckiest buy photographs by Harry Benson at the Galerie Got until 28 May.