East Kilbride MSP Linda Fabiani last week had the pleasure of hosting Harry Benson’s Shoot First documentary at the Edinburgh Film House and then hosting a presentation and question and answer session with Harry himself in the Parliament Chamber. This was all part of the Festival of Politics 2016, and complimented by a Parliamentary exhibition of Harry’s photographs which runs until December 3rd.
Born in 1929, Glasgow born Harry Benson CBE had his first break aged 24, when he worked for the Hamilton Advertiser, the largest weekly newspaper in Scotland at the time. Harry’s connection to East Kilbride helped catapult his career, as he was the only photographer to get a close up on the location of a murder on East Kilbride golf course by infamous mass murderer Peter Manuel. After the photographs were published, Harry was hired by London’s Daily Sketch to cover Scotland, and went to the USA to cover the first tour by the Beatles. He stayed in the US where he married and raised his family.
Perhaps best known for his famous coverage of the Beatles initial US tour in 1964, Benson has since photographed every US President from Eisenhower to Obama, and took photographs of Senator Robert Kennedy just moments after he was tragically shot. Working for Life Magazine from 1968-2000, Harry covered the IRA hunger strikes, as well as the conflict in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, Israel and the West Bank.
Commenting after the events, Linda said:
“It was an real privilege to host the first screening of the documentary and then the conversation with Harry Benson himself in our Parliament Chamber – it was a fascinating insight into someone who has photographed some of the most captivating and iconic images of the 20th Century.
“I was fascinated to learn of Harry’s time working with the Hamilton Advertiser and covering East Kilbride. The murder on East Kilbride Golf course by the infamous Peter Manuel was his first big story and led to his moving to London, and then the USA. He went on to produce some of the most interesting portraits of the past sixty years – from US presidents, the Beatles, Cassius Clay, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland through to Amy Winehouse. The list is endless and I am sure that everyone has at some time viewed a Harry Benson photograph without realising that he is a Glasgow boy who began his career in Lanarkshire.