Harry Benson

1929 -

Photo-journalist. Born in Glasgow and brought up in Clarkston (East Renfrewshire), Benson was educated at Eastwood Secondary School, from where he was expelled at age thirteen. He went on to train in commercial drawing, painting and drawing at Glasgow School of Art. He began his career as a messenger for a film company in Glasgow before securing a position as a press photographer with the Hamilton Advertiser. In 1956, he got his first 'exclusive' covering the scene of a murder by Peter Manuel (1927-58) on an East Kilbride golf course for the Daily Sketch. Benson moved on to the Daily Express and was soon established in Fleet Street. He followed The Beatles to New York in 1964, helping to launch the group on the world stage, and made that city his home.

Benson began working for Life magazine in 1968 and his photographs have appeared in Esquire, GQ, The New Yorker, Paris Match, Vanity Fair and Vogue. He has witnessed many of the key events of the second half of the 20th century and the early 21st century. In 1968, he recorded the assassination of Robert Kennedy and the funeral of Martin Luther King. He was present at both the construction and the destruction of the Berlin Wall and when Cassius Clay became world heavyweight champion. He saw the World Trade Center towers fall, has photographed ten US Presidents at home in the White House, together with numerous other celebrities. Benson has also produced several books of his photographs, including Harry Benson: 50 Years in Pictures (2001).

Benson has twice been named Magazine Photographer of the year by the National Press Photographers Association, along with many other awards. He was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Scottish Press Photography Awards in 2006 and a major exhibition of his work opened at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh in the same year. He was awarded a CBE in the New Year Honours list of 2009. He was awarded honorary degrees by Glasgow School of Art, the University of St Andrews and Glasgow Caledonian University.

His daughter is minor US film and TV star Wendy Benson.

Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry arrow

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better