The Beatles engaged in a pillow fight in a hotel room in 1964; Kate Moss backstage at Vivienne Westwood’s fashion show in Paris in 1993; the tense moments immediately after Bobby Kennedy was shot in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in 1968; an IRA bomb maker at work in Belfast in 1985. Photographer Harry Benson has been behind the lens of some of the most iconic images in our pop-culture history.
The Scottish photographer, now 87, earned a reputation over the course of his career for doing whatever it took to get the shot, never shying away from arduous assignments. He credits much of his success with being willing to take on difficult shoots and hard-to-win-over subjects, like the famously private Johnny Carson. “I’d say ‘no problem’ with everything,” he says. “Even ones that were nearly impossible.”
That fierce spirit and unflagging love for the art form is captured in a new documentary, Harry Benson: Shoot First. In it, filmmakers Justin Bare and Matthew Miele (the pair also worked together on 2013’s Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s) spin a nuanced portrait of an incredible artist and photojournalist, including interviews with many of the people he’s known and photographed over the years—larger-than-life personalities like Sharon Stone, Dan Rather, and Alec Baldwin. This extraordinary documentary premieres Friday, December 9. Here, DEPARTURES readers can get an exclusive sneak peek at the film.
Harry Benson: Shoot First airs December 9, 2016, online at iTunes, Amazon Video, and other streaming services, and in theaters in select cities, including Santa Monica, Washington, D.C., and New York City. See website for dates and locations; magpictures.com.