‘Photography Is Not a Team Sport’

The Scottish-born photographer Harry Benson found his way to the United States in 1964 when he was assigned to cover the Beatles’s invasion. He was chosen for the prime assignment because he was handsome; according to Benson, the other photographer was too ugly to pal around with Paul, John, Ringo, and George. Musings like this are revealed in Magnolia Pictures’s new film, Harry Benson: Shoot First, a documentary that explores the iconic images of Benson’s career. He remembers history as happenstance; Benson’s just as lucky as he is ferocious. “I’ve had an exciting life, every day is a new day,” the 87-year-old said. “What I’ve learned is that photography is not a team sport. Perseverance counts.” The photojournalist and celebrity portraitist has photographed every U.S. president since Eisenhower, attended Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball, marched with Martin Luther King Jr., and documented the Berlin wall go both up and down. Below, he’s shared a few of his earlier photographs with The Atlantic, as well as the stories behind the images.

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