Being There: Harry Benson's fifty years of photojournalism

Article by Katy Wesley | 14 Aug 2006

This, Harry Benson's first solo exhibition in the U.K., is long overdue. Not only are Benson's photos all fascinating in their own right, but these highlights of the last half-century make for an engaging history lesson. It's all here, from iconic portraits of Martin Luther King to Ariel Sharon in Gaza to the Beatles first arrival in New York. As you meander through the 100+ images it may occur that Benson's real skill was not the obvious talent for 'being there', but rather his journalistic eye. Not the body of Bobby Kennedy immediately after being shot, but his panic stricken wife, shrieking at the crowds to back off and give her husband some air. Not the funerals and memorial services for those killed during the 9/11 attacks, but the poignantly empty chair next to the widow of John Ogonowski, the fated pilot of American Airlines flight 11, overlooking their farm land in Dracut. Alongside well-known images of presidents, prime ministers, conflicts and protesters sit celebrity portraits, wedding photos and the kind of socially arresting images that have won Benson countless magazine covers (shown en masse as back lit slides). The photos are accompanied by anecdotes, quotes and explanations, providing both insight into the moments captured by the lens and the unflinching man behind it.

4th Aug 2006-7th Jan 2007
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
£6, £4 concessions, free to under 12's