It was my pleasure to attend a slide show by Harry Benson recently at San Diego's Museum of Photographic Arts. Harry Benson, born in Scotland, "arrived with the Beatles" to the United States in 1964. He photographed for LIFE Magazine from 1970 to 2000, and now shoots for Vanity Fair and others.
Just a few highlights of slide show include:
His favorite image: the Beatles having a pillowfight.
His most difficult portrait subject: Bobby Fischer. He got Fisher to open up to him by taking a walk with him and discussing Fischer's admiration for Joe Namath. He gave Fischer a picture he had taken of Namath.
Most dangerous assignments: (among many): race riots in Watts and in the South.
Tips on photographing the famous: "these people don't want to pass this way unnoticed and unrecorded," so they will cooperate to a large extent. However, he says "never give the details of tomorrow's shoot" because it's likely that an uncooperative spouse will nix the idea!
Photographing Ronald Reagan: he was very gracious and easy to photograph. And his "funny stories were actually really funny!"
How he photographed Robert Kennedy's assassination scene: as much as he was stunned, he told himself to "keep shooting" because "that's what I'm there to do."
The state of photojournalism today: "It should be better but it's worse." He decried all of the "fake photographs" prevalent in magazines-- like a Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum!
What a good photograph should be: "A glimpse in time, then it's gone!"
If you ever get the chance to see Harry Benson speak, don't miss it! His incredible images can be seen at his simple and elegant website: Herry Benson.