Harry benson – page – interview magazine

At age 87, Harry Benson still cites an early failure in life as having propelled him forward. Berlin hotel last minute Back in his hometown of Glasgow, Scotland, he was expelled from school at age 13—for being “stupid” as he tells it. Hotel berlin mitte But this story does not continue as the sad tale of a rejected adolescent; the defeat, fortunately, made Benson all the more ambitious. Hotel tiergarten berlin He turned toward photography, and published his first image in a local paper in 1946.


While most are not familiar with that early shot of a deer in a zoo, it’s the start of an astonishing pool of subjects amassed by Benson; there’s each US president since Eisenhower (John F. Berlin hotel offers Kennedy, Lyndon B. Berlin hotel boutique Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Hotel adlon berlin adresse Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Hotel umgebung berlin Bush, and Barack Obama) and our President-elect holding a million dollars at the Trump Taj Mahal, or, with any of his wives (notably Melania Trump in their gilded home). Angleterre hotel berlin There’s also Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow, in masks; Martin Luther King and Civil Rights marches; refugee camps in Somalia; the IRA; Robert F. Berlin hotel ostbahnhof “Bobby” Kennedy’s assassination; the KKK; the Beatles as they first arrived in the US; John Lennon’s killer; Michael Jackson at Neverland Ranch; Muhammad Ali; and a couple from either side of the Berlin Wall, mid-kiss.

These stories, and the recollections of fans and former subjects such as Jay McInerney, Dan Rather, Alec Baldwin, Donald Trump, Sharon Stone, André Leon Talley, and Ralph Lauren, are the focus of a new documentary on Benson. Hotel berli berlin Directed by Matthew Miele and Justin Bare and titled Harry Benson: Shoot First, it’s an apt profile of the man behind several images that are synonymous with “iconic”—many of which are currently on display in New York at Staley-Wise Gallery.

While Benson is blunt and unyielding in his beliefs when it comes to photography, he (and his wife Gigi) are more than welcoming when we meet at their apartment on the Upper East Side earlier this month. Superior hotel berlin By the end of our conversation, Harry Benson was holding open the door to the elevator, continuing with stories even as its alarm started to sound.

BENSON: It put me into shock. Nh berlin hotel [ pauses] I’ve always been anonymous—that’s the position I should be. Hotel boulevard berlin And it’s hard to say why or how you did something; it just happens. Hotel berlin friedrichstrasse I’ve basically followed a camera all my life. Berlin hotel am kudamm I follow it and it’s fun. Hotel adlon berlin brunch The thing about photography is that every day is a new day, even if you’re working on the same story, because every day you’ve got a chance to correct what you did the day before, and try to take it a bit further or a bit back.

WEISS: In the film you talk about how some photographers say they have a sense of ethics, and that’s why they don’t take a shot, but it’s actually that they didn’t have the guts to take the shot. Berlin hotel estrel Do you have an ethical code that you abide by?

BENSON: My ethics are basically around animals. Hotel adlon berlin preise I can’t do animals in distress. Berlin hotels mitte I was able to shut myself off with humans, and in a strange way, if you go through violence, you come out stronger at the other end than what you went in. N h hotel berlin … Hotel berlin mitte 4 sterne I’ve never seen anything like [the refugee camps in Somalia]—people just dying, even the ones who looked all right, in a few hours they were gone. Aldea hotel berlin That was really just awful.

BENSON: You have to, yes, and also you’ve got a responsibility to bring it back. Berlin hotel gyumri But these big camps—all the ones I’ve been in—have been run by gangsters. Luxury hotel in berlin They get the money, or most of the money, and they’ll commandeer the food and give it out. Berlin hotel h10 It’s not a good thing. Best hotel berlin mitte They’ve never found a way to do it.

WEISS: You said in the film that you’d regret not taking a picture. Hotel mitte berlin Are there any photographs you regret not taking or have you always taken the photo?

BENSON: There are pictures I’ve regretted not taking, but I forget about them, because there’s no point—I didn’t take them. Hotel berlin 4 sterne [ laughs] But I would’ve regretted not taking Bobby Kennedy’s assassination, because it was so historic. Hotel m68 berlin And there were things about [John F. Berlin hotel hackescher markt Kennedy’s assassination in] Dallas, like the Grassy Knoll, and all the different things [said] about different people—that everything, I felt, had to be photographed. Berlin hotel mit parkplatz Also, when I got back to my hotel in Los Angeles, I called the FBI to come and look at the pictures, and they never came. Berlin hotel excelsior In the contact sheets there might be a picture of you there and you said you weren’t there, but they never came. Hostel x berger berlin I came back to New York and did the same thing, and they still haven’t come.

BENSON: Yes. Hotel in berlin mitte mit parkplatz And if they don’t come twice—it might’ve been three times I called—I don’t want to start drawing attention to myself. Swiss hotel berlin [ laughs] It’s not good to draw the attention of those people.

WEISS: You’ve said that you think Bobby Kennedy would’ve understood why you photographed it, or you hope that if you meet him again, he will understand.

BENSON: Well, I’m saying that… Hotel berlin mitte habersaathstr 40a 42 You know, he’s been murdered, and blood is pouring out his head, and his wife is screaming. Berlin hotel stadtmitte And people say to me, “Did you have nightmares?” Because I do wake up at night—not having a nightmare, I would’ve had a nightmare if I hadn’t photographed it, because I had to. Hotel berlin 3 sterne Because that’s what I am and was and that was my being; I was a hard news photographer. Berlin hotel amano I wasn’t a fancy photographer, precious, [ whispers] “Oh, I can’t take that.”

BENSON: That’s embarrassing, and it’s stupid, especially when you know you’re stupid. Hotel zoo berlin [ both laugh] Do you know what the word legend means? Do you know what it means to me?

BENSON: I’m old—that’s all that means. Berlin hotel luxury I’ve been around long enough; I’ve been taking photographs a long, long time. Mitte hotel berlin I mean, I’ve photographed every American president since Eisenhower—that’s a long time. Berlin mitte hotel 4 sterne And I was taking pictures before that. Hotel a berlin It was 1964 when the Beatles arrived; that’s a long time as well. Berlin hotel esplanade I was a Fleet Street photographer then, I was a seasoned street photographer, a news photographer. Hotel adlon berlin michael jackson So my career didn’t start when I came off of the plane with the Beatles. Airport hotel berlin I knew what I was doing, up to a point.

BENSON: Just banging about—there’s no straight path to anything. Hotel berlin design Even with the Beatles, you think, “Well, this will help me”—sure, it helped me, but the Beatles were only talking about surviving for 15 months. Berlin hotel leonardo Paul and John said, “Oh, we could do Broadway plays or West End London plays,” George was talking about being a classical guitarist, and Ringo wanted to open a lady’s hairdresser. Hotel bei berlin They were talking within 15 months, because that was all a rock ‘n’ roll [band had]—that was the lifespan. Maritim hotel berlin So I wasn’t in a place to get carried away with that. D a s hotel berlin It was, “What have you done for us today?” It’s not like you go back and you sit on your laurels—no way. Berlin hotel trivago I came here with the Beatles, I did the Ed Sullivan show, then I did Ian Fleming, then I was straight into Civil Rights with Martin Luther King.

BENSON: No—that was what I wanted to do. Hotel berlin de I didn’t want the Beatles, because I was going to Africa. H hotel berlin I wanted to do that. Albergo hotel berlin But you do what you’re told.

When I went on [with the Beatles], it was a music story in Paris, and within two days it became a big news story, because the Beatles were hitting number one, two, three, four, right on top of all of these [charts]. Berlin hotel friedrichstrasse All of this music was sensational. Berlin hotel h2 So, journalists from all over the world were flying in—big time ones. Berlin hotel mercure It wasn’t a music bunch; it was a news bunch because the Beatles were a phenomenon. Berlin hotel melia And they’re still with us. Kudamm berlin hotel Their music is so good. Berlin hotel steigenberger Nobody comes near them, really. Berlin hotel sauna But that’s not what I’m thinking then; I’m thinking about 15 months if that’s what Paul and John are giving it. Hotel adlon berlin preis pro nacht It was probably about two months [I spent with them], then again another couple of weeks, then I did A Hard Day’s Night. Berlin hotel hamburg But then I really wanted off of it. Berlin hotel pullman You know, after you’ve done the Beatles, who wants Hall & Oates? [ both laugh] But I did a bit on the Who and a bit on the Stones, and I did a lot on Michael Jackson, but that was all spaced out over years.

WEISS: Was it more difficult to photograph the man who killed John Lennon, Mark David Chapman, because you knew Lennon? Or is it all just your assignment?

BENSON: It’s an assignment, but I wanted to meet the bastard. Berlin hotel friedrichshain Terrible thing. Adrema hotel berlin John was a completely decent guy; he wasn’t show business. Hotel adlon berlin buchen He really wanted, genuinely, to help people. Hotel berlin kreuzberg And I like Paul.

WEISS: I know Chapman took you aside, and he spoke to you, to apologize or explain what he did. Suite hotel berlin When you have the camera, you can maybe turn off your emotions, but can you do it in that situation? When you’re face-to-face with someone?

BENSON: Yeah, sure. Berlin hotel de rome He was washed, he was clean, he had got himself all ready, he had been working out. Berlin hotel mitte And I asked him why he did it, and he said because he heard John’s voice early in the morning, last thing at night, and he couldn’t take anymore. Berlin hotel palace Which is an excuse, which is a reason, but he’s still mad. Berlin hotel radisson blu And I hope he doesn’t get out, because I know he’ll come down here looking for me.

WEISS: Is there anything you’ve never been asked about your work or never had the opportunity to say about your work that you would like to say now?

BENSON: I’m having a Lifetime Achievement Award from ICP, and the Queen made me a Commander of the British Empire, and I don’t mind saying that because I had to leave school when I was 13 for no other reason than I was fucking stupid, excuse my language. Berlin hotel 5 sterne It always made me a bit bitter, and I know nobody else in my school got shit, so I don’t mind showing off a bit. 5 star berlin hotels But I wish I had all of these honors when I was 22. Berlin hotels 5 star [ laughs] I’ll take it, I’m not going to be coy. Hotel berlin alexanderplatz You know, there are [photographers like] Richard Avedon and you couldn’t speak to him he was so grand. Berlin hotel jobs [ mimics Avedon] “Oh, in a moment please.” He took shit pictures in the studio. Hotel adlon berlin restaurant Genteel, precious, all his little handlers. Berlin hotel catalonia … Berlin innenstadt hotel That’s so pretentious. Hotel unter den linden berlin It’s so arrogant. Hotel adlon berlin angebote You gather by what I’m saying, I’m not impressed by studio photography. Berlin hotel one Did you like the documentary?

WEISS: I did. J f kennedy hotel berlin It’s interesting to hear the relatives of your subjects speak about how they felt about the photos, like the photo of Greta Garbo swimming—I believe it was her nephew who spoke.

BENSON: I liked him. Berlin hotel 103 I enjoyed listening to his opinion. Hotel berlin schwimmbad Greta Garbo cannot be ignored. Berlin hotel expedia There’s a woman who went to great pains, “I want to be alone,” and, “Don’t look at me.” She lived on East 54th between 3rd and 2nd for years. N h hotel berlin treptow She’d slink out with a hat on. Berlin hotel california But now she’s swimming in front of me. Hotel berlin suchen She just came swimming! I was a bit lucky that I was there, but you’ve got to be prepared.

And then you come to points of view, and people will say, “Well, you’ve got to see their point of view,” like, “He was tired, he’d been working.” And you know something—to hell with their point of view. Berlin hotel zentrum There’s only one point of view; that is your point of view. Hotel adlon berlin geschichte You’re making a mistake if you see their point of view. Hotel q berlin There’s only one and that’s your livelihood. Centrovital hotel berlin You see people on their deathbed doing things; surely a piece of shit actor can do something. Hotel berlin mitte mit parkplatz … Berlin hotel near zoo That might not be very nice about it, but I say that because I’ve been messed up thinking of people’s points of view, and both times, the person went and did it for another photographer. Hotel berlin innenstadt So it all makes you like an old dog that let the burglar in the house, but by Christ he’s going to get the fucking postman. Design hotel berlin [ laughs] If I was giving advice, that’s the one I would say.

BENSON: I’ve got a few. Berlin stadtmitte hotel He told me I could walk in the cage in the [Trump Taj Mahal] casino—where all the money is. Hotel berlin mitte 5 sterne If you own that casino, you’re not allowed in there, but he did. Berlin in hotel He told me I could go in there and get a million dollars, and I told him, “Donald, I’ve never seen a million dollars.” “You’ve gotta!” … E hotel berlin But when you go in and go, “I’ll get a picture,” that’s nothing to do with politics.

HARRY BENSON: SHOOT FIRST IS NOW AVAILABLE ON ITUNES AND AMAZON. Berlin hotel i31 “HARRY BENSON: GET THE PICTURE” IS ON VIEW AT STALEY-WISE GALLERY IN NEW YORK THROUGH JANUARY 28, 2017.