It can be hard sometimes to describe what makes a photograph “iconic”, but rest assured, you know one when you see it. Harry Benson, who is now 87 years of age, spent his career and most of his life perfecting the art of capturing profound moments.
So, recently I saw a documentary called Harry Benson: Shoot First and let me tell you, it was absolutely f*cking amazing. I think it was so good partly because I loved the photos and learning about how things were in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. But I think a bigger is reason is that Shoot First brought light to some of the character nuances that someone must possess to be able to capture images that last forever.
Main takeaways from the documentary:
1) Harry was able to capture authentic human emotion. But, he wasn’t just present to witness and photograph iconic, historical moments, the fact that he was there made those moments all the more memorable. Everyone interviewed in the documentary agreed that he was a charming guy who made people feel at ease. Through his charm, Harry was able to capture the best expressions that people don’t usually show when cameras are present.
2) He always put photography first. He was known to leave somewhere on a moment’s notice and be gone away from his family for extended periods of time in the name of his career. Greatness takes sacrifice.
I highly recommend watching this documentary if you haven’t already. It will undoubtedly add a dimension your photography the next time you pick up the camera, no matter what you shoot.
Here are a few of my favorite Harry Benson’s photos:
(note Jack’s nostril)