‘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.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Andrea Spinelli / Corbis via Getty

    A World Without People

    For a number of reasons, natural and human, people have abandoned many places around the world.

  • Dan Mullan / Getty

    Baku 2017: The Islamic Solidarity Games

    For the past 10 days in Baku, Azerbaijan, 6,000 athletes from 54 nations competed in 21 sports during the fourth iteration of the Islamic Solidarity Games.

  • Lucas Jackson / Reuters

    The Finale of 'The Greatest Show on Earth'

    After a run of 146 years, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, known as “The Greatest Show on Earth,” has come to an end.

  • Pascal Pochard-Casabianca / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: 5/13–5/19

    The world’s fastest shed in Wales, France welcomes a new president, a portrait of the late singer Chris Cornell on stage in Atlanta, a new eruption of Mount Sinabung, and much more.

Join the Discussion