Photographers on Film: “Harry Benson: Shoot First”

“A great photograph can never happen again. – Harry Benson”

The Beatles and Muhammad Ali in HARRY BENSON: SHOOT FIRST, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. Photo Credit: © Harry Benson.

If any photojournalist or portrait photographer born in the last 100 years had a bucket list of people to photograph I’m guessing it would include at least a handful of these names. The Beatles, Winston Churchill, Bobby Fischer, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jackson, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Robert F. Kennedy.

Theatrical one-sheet for HARRY BENSON: SHOOT FIRST, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Well, one guy has already done that. He’s 86 no where near done working.

Harry Benson is likely a name you probably recognize if you’re a person who follows that sort of thing – but it’s his photographs that I promise that you’ll know. The most iconic is the one that starts the film and makes the film poster.

Harry Benson: Shoot First is a new documentary, now available on VOD and DVD, that explores the life and photos of Harry Benson. Benson is one of the most formidable news and portrait photographers of the last century. He got his start in the tabloid papers of Fleet Street and worked his way up taking photos of politicians, celebs and anyone you can think of worth taking a photo of.

While the celebration of his work is excellent and well deserved the film also acts as an exploration of photojournalism and portrait work. It wonderfully explores the art of photography, the controversies of different styles and the ethics of candid photos that walk the line of paparazzi. While it’s rare to get an exciting documentary about a photographer – this one exceeds at doing that. I started watching the film simply for an article here at AroundTheLens.com but ended up focused on it, laughing and nodding when Benson made comments about his field and jokingly jabbing at his colleagues.

Ethel Kennedy in HARRY BENSON: SHOOT FIRST, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. Photo Credit: © Harry Benson.

Thanks to the many celeb cameos from Alec Baldwin, to the now President Donald Trump to Sharon Stone the film also has the added benefit of having some of the people who were photographed by Benson. As people who are photographed continually and some who have problems with photographer (cough, Alec Baldwin) they all loved working with him and noted specific ways that made the way he worked easier on them.

Harry Benson: Shoot First is a film that shouldn’t be missed by either the experienced photographer or the freshman student that is taking their first Photo 101 class.

 

 

Magnolia Pictures and Quixotic Endeavors presents
A Matthew Miele & Justin Bare film
“Harry Benson: Shoot First”
Music by Mario Grigorov
Music Supervisor Patrick Oliver
Associate Producers Alex Gittleson Victoria Mele
Co-Producer Michael Weismann
Edited by Heather Silverman
Director of Photography Justin Bare
Co-Executive Producers Stephen McCarthy Clive Gershon
Executive Producer Matthew Miele
Produced by Justin Bare Gigi Benson Heather Silverman
Written and Directed by Matthew Miele & Justin Bare

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