Harry Benson’s Intimate Photos of Cultural Icons

A Scottish-born photographer, Harry Benson’s big break came when he started traveling with The Beatles in 1964. His photo of the band having an impromptu pillow fight at a Paris hotel quickly became part of rock ‘n’ roll history, but his six decades of imagery have captured more than just the music world. A steadfast photojournalist, Benson has shot portraits of every American president from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama. Photographing for Life magazine from 1970 to 2000 and producing more than 100 cover shots for People, the talented lensman has enjoyed unlimited access to celebrities while also spending time in the trenches to report on protests and conflicts around the world.

The subject of an extended exhibition at Staley-Wise Gallery in New York, Benson presents his quirky images of Jacqueline Kennedy, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, R. Crumb, Andy Warhol, and Muhammad Ali, as well as a few recent portraits, including a dynamic 2007 shot of a vivacious Amy Winehouse. Click through to view a selection of our favorite photos from the show.

Harry Benson, The Beatles: Pillow Fight, Paris, 1964. Courtesy Staley-Wise Gallery, New York