Harry Benson: Shoot First


HARRY BENSON: SHOOT FIRST – a new movie about acclaimed photojournalist Harry Benson, native of Glasgow and now residing in New York, and Honorary Patron of Document Scotland, is now out in the cinemas.

HARRY BENSON: SHOOT FIRST will be shown at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh on Monday, February 6 and Tuesday, February 7. And no doubt on many more screens to come.

Watch the trailer here.


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Harry Benson CBE, an exhibition

We’re pleased to hear that Glasgow-born photojournalist Harry Benson CBE, and Honorary Patron of Document Scotland, is having an exhibition at the Scottish Parliament later this year. The press release from Holyrood, reproduced below, tells all…

The Presiding Officer, the Rt Hon Tricia Marwick, with Harry Benson CBE.

The Presiding Officer, the Rt Hon Tricia Marwick, with Harry Benson CBE.


An exhibition featuring the work of one of the world’s most renowned photographers, Harry Benson CBE, is to go on display at the Scottish Parliament in August.

The free exhibition, Harry Benson: Seeing America, will include some of the photographer’s most iconic images capturing significant moments in America’s social, political and cultural history over the last 50 years.

Harry Benson’s credentials on photographing American history are unrivalled. Glasgow-born Benson essentially arrived in America with the Beatles and went on to photograph every US President since Dwight D. Eisenhower. Benson was present during Bobby Kennedy’s assassination and teargassed during the James Meredith March with Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. He started by covering America for the Daily Express and by 1968, was fulfilling his ambition of working for Life magazine.


Cassius Clay hits George Harrison of The Beatles,- copyright Harry Benson 1964.

Cassius Clay hits George Harrison of The Beatles,- copyright Harry Benson 1964.


This new exhibition will bring together many of his well-known images including the photograph of President and Mrs Reagan dancing, which featured on the cover of Vanity Fair, images documenting the civil rights movement and tensions in 1960s America, the Watergate journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward and Richard Nixon’s resignation speech. It will also feature many well-known American entertainers including Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Jack Nicholson, Dolly Parton, Kevin Spacey and Brad Pitt.

The free exhibition will be on display at the Parliament from Friday 12 August until Saturday 3 December. It will be the first exhibition of Harry Benson’s work to go on display in Scotland since 2008.

Reagan's Dance, copyright Harry Benson 1985

Reagan’s Dance, copyright Harry Benson 1985


The Presiding Officer, the Rt Hon Tricia Marwick, who announced the exhibition whilst she was in New York for Scotland Week, said: “Harry Benson’s work is admired across the world and he is undoubtedly one of Scotland’s greatest exports.

“This new exhibition is Harry’s unique take on America over the last 50 years and will feature some of his most iconic photographs.

“As the debate on the forthcoming US Presidential election intensifies, this exhibition shines a light on some of the defining moments of America’s past.

“This exhibition is a “must see” for anyone with an interest in American history, politics and culture.”

Glasgow-born, Harry has photographed some of the world’s biggest stars from The Beatles to Muhammad Ali over a career spanning 60 years.

Harry Benson CBE said: “Growing up in Glasgow, one year at the end of term when I had narrowly passed my qualifying exam to the next level, my teacher, Miss MacKenzie, stopped me as I shuffled out of the classroom and said, “Benson, I don’t worry about you one bit.” It was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me. I wish I could have gone back years later to thank her.

“To have my retrospective, my American journey, at Parliament is an incredible privilege. My wife, Gigi, and my daughters, Wendy and Tessa, join me in thanking the Scottish Parliament for this truly remarkable honour.”

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The UnAmericans: Detained, Deported and Divided

Congratulations are due to New York-based Scottish photographer Graham MacIndoe and his partner, journalist Susan Stellin, on being awarded an Alicia Patterson Foundation grant for their project ‘The UnAmericans: Detained, Deported and Divided’.

The UnAmericans: Detained, Deported and Divided

The project is a series of interviews and photographs documenting the stories of immigrants who have been ordered to be deported from the United States, as well as their family members – often, American citizens – who suffer the consequences of the harsh punishment of exile. These stories illustrate the wide range of people locked up while caught up in deportation proceedings: not just individuals who crossed the border illegally, but asylum seekers, legal permanent residents, and immigrants trapped in the bureaucracy of adjusting a visa. – Graham MacIndoe & Susan Stellin.

Fatoumata - Husband Deported whilst seeking Asylum. Bronx, NYC. 2013 ©Graham MacIndoe 2013, all rights reserved.

Fatoumata – Husband Deported whilst seeking Asylum. Bronx, NYC. 2013 ©Graham MacIndoe 2013, all rights reserved.


Philippine Immigrant takes Sanctuary in Church after removal order, 2013. ©Graham MacIndoe 2013, all rights reserved.

Philippine Immigrant takes Sanctuary in Church after removal order, 2013. ©Graham MacIndoe 2013, all rights reserved.


Dante's Immigration Check In Papers. 2013. ©Graham MacIndoe 2013, all rights reserved.

Dante’s Immigration Check In Papers. 2013. ©Graham MacIndoe 2013, all rights reserved.


Click here to view more work from the  series of Graham MacIndoe’s photography project The UnAmericans. And please send, via Twitter, your congratulations to Susan and Graham on their award!


The annual fellowships are designed to foster independent in-depth reporting on national and international affairs. The Alicia Patterson Foundation fellowship program for journalists was established in 1965 in memory of Alicia Patterson, who was editor and publisher of Newsday for nearly twenty-three years before her death in 1963.

The Fellows are awarded $40,000 for a 12-month grant and $20,000 for a six-month grant.

The new Fellows will spend their fellowship months traveling, researching, and writing articles on their projects for the APF REPORTER, a quarterly web magazine published by the Foundation. Every year, the Fellows’ articles and photo essays are widely distributed through newspapers, news services, magazines, and websites worldwide. Fellows’ work often is published jointly with their “home” news outlet and has resulted in many national awards.

The winners were selected through a highly competitive process of screening by two panels of judges, as well as submitting detailed proposals, examples of past work, and references.

More than 320 reporters, editors, and photographers have won Alicia Patterson fellowships since the foundation was established in 1965 to honor the former publisher of Newsday.


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Sandy Carson “Steadfast Love”


Curly with Hammer © Sandy Carson all rights reserved


Sandy Carson is a Scottish photographer now living in Austin, Texas. He is an established photojournalist in America and has rarely been back to Scotland. Recently however, he returned to catch-up with his family in Newmains, Lanarkshire and started a series of photographs about his folks called, Steadfast Love, a series of intimate portraits including archive material that his mum has collected over the years. Document Scotland caught-up with Sandy in San Francisco where he was working on his excellent project, “Black Friday”, which you can see on his website…..www.sandycarson.com


DS What was it like going back to your family home to take pictures with a degree of intent?

SC When I started making the photos I didn’t have any intention, other than to take back some memories of home, but after numerous visits over the years, the photos began to navigate towards a narrative, based on my family and their immediate surroundings. I do have specific photographs I intend to make each time I go back since the project has some structure now but it’s really casual and mostly candid. It’s interesting making observational pictures of your parents and their routines when you don’t see them from one year to another but despite how bland and ritualistic it can be, I find it always entertaining.


Curly hanging out the washing © Sandy Carson all rights reserved


(C) Sandy Carson

© Sandy Carson all rights reserved


DS What were you looking for?

SC  To make a respectful and light hearted self-portrait of my parents in their retirement and to document the village that I grew up since I emigrated at such a young age. My parents are getting old and after being in the States for two decades, I feel like my photography can help me understand them more from the chunk of time I’ve been absent in the family. My family are quite content and support anything I’m doing really, just as long as I’m afloat and eating ok. They are not connected to the internet world and rarely see my photos unless a family member reports to them what I’ve been up to on the internet. I send prints occasionally, a few of them they don’t like so much and think I’m daft when I am making photos of them. My mother has a collection of family photos, dictaphone tapes and artifacts she keeps in a big biscuit tin that date back to the 40’s onwards, all shot by different family members, passed on from my grandfather, who was an artist. Those snapshots and sound-bites had quite an influence on me growing up and I enjoy revisiting the nostalgia each time I go home.


Mum’s prayer book © Sandy Carson all rights reserved



Mary Doll © Sandy Carson all rights reserved


DS What was your camera set-up when taking the pics close to home? Why did you make that choice?

SC I made the photographs using 35mm, medium and large format. I find that the bigger the format, the more quality time I can spend with my family or subjects in set-up time – just slowing life down in general. I’ve shot digital on occasion but didn’t like the process or the end result. There just wasn’t any magic or nostalgic physicality to the digital files versus a piece of film. My family are old school and I feel like it’s only fair to shoot analogue with the aesthetic. It’s also nice to take a break from using digital cameras when I got back, as I use them to death for my commercial and editorial work, here in the states.

DS Tell us something about your family as individuals and as a family unit?

SC They are just your average Scottish working class retirees and comedians battling on and keeping each other going. They vacation in Spain like a lot of Scotland holidays makers and support Glasgow Rangers, despite their epic fail in the premiere league. In-house bar opens at 9pm every night, (sometimes earlier).


Dinner © Sandy Carson all rights reserved


Sandy Carson's parents (C) Sandy Carson

© Sandy Carson all rights reserved


DS When was the last time you were in Scotland? What changes have you noticed? What were the biggest challenges taking pictures, both on the road, and nearer to home?

SC I came back last summer for a visit with my girlfriend. It hasn’t changed around where I grew up, except for graffiti being painted over, or the local neds changing their gang names. It’s always been a challenge and kind of scary making photos sometimes in schemes. I’ve definitely been swung-at, chased and asked why I am taking photos, even by children. The last thing I want is to get stabbed again! Why else would I take photos in schemes if I’m not from the Social Security? On the road and out of the scheme, you just become another tourists taking photos pretty much.


Police station © Sandy Carson all rights reserved



Swing Park © Sandy Carson all rights reserved



Neighborhood Question © Sandy Carson all rights reserved


DS What are your plans for further photography in Scotland?

SC I plan on continuing this project and see what corner it takes me, or until I think it’s done. I’m planning on riding my bike with some friends from John O’Groats to Land’s End this summer, which should make for a good adventure and good photo ops. Maybe we’ll stop through my parents house for a cuppa?


Mum watching Tour de France © Sandy Carson all rights reserved



Mum’s nightstand © Sandy Carson all rights reserved



Primary School and 70th birthday portraits © Sandy Carson all rights reserved



Mum’s slippers © Sandy Carson all rights reserved

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Gardner’s ‘Sketch Book’

Born in 1821, Alexander Gardner was a Paisley boy, before setting off in 1851 for London where he met American photographer Matthew Brady. In 1856 he left Britain by ship for American where he reunited with Brady and joined his studio. Subsequently Gardner went on to become one of the first, and most famous war photographers, documenting the aftermaths of the battles of Gettyburg, Petersburg and Fredericksburg.  Gardner also photographed Abraham Lincoln and the execution of the conspirators to the Lincoln’s assassination. 

The following little film, comes via Hulton Getty archive, and takes a look at Gardener’s ‘Sketch Book of the American Civil War’. Document Scotland has blogged previously about the iPad app of Gardner’s ‘Sketch Book of the American Civil War’.

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Alexander Gardner’s iPad app.

Alexander Gardner, the 19th century Scottish photographer, is the last person you expect to find late on a Thursday evening hanging out on Twitter, but indeed to my amusement and surprise I somehow stumbled into his Twitter feed.

Alexander Gardner was, or is (since he is still tweeting and nice to see he’s taken to social media) regarded as the first photojournalist. Born in Paisley, Scotland, on October 17th 1821, Gardner moved to America in 1856, where he subsequently became photographer of the Army of the Potomac, and the man who documented the American Civil War, bringing back for viewing for the first time ever photographs of war dead. He was also the photographer who shot portraits of Abraham Lincoln and also images of the execution of the conspirators to Lincoln’s assassination.

Surely Gardner would have something interesting to say in 140 Twitter characters ? So I took a look, read his feed, and behold, I find that not only did Gardner have a twitter feed but he also has an iPad app for sale. Not one to shy away from modern technology he has resurrected his famous and scarce Photographic Sketch Book of The War into an app, available now on iTunes.

This was too good to be true, so I sent him a message. How could I resist chatting with a Scottish documentary photographer of his stature ? And kindly, Alexander has graciously let Document Scotland reproduce below the text describing his app and showcasing his most famous work, and has also shared with us a few screen grabs of it.

Alexander Gardner, we thank you.


About Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War iPad app.

Antietam. Manassas. Gettysburg. These are battles that are forever etched in America’s memories. The man who captured some of the most horrific images during the War Between the States was Alexander Gardner, an intrepid Scotsman, a jeweler’s apprentice of Calvinist upbringing, a newspaper publisher, entrepreneur and photographer.

Gardner’s historically significant compilation of images, his Photographic Sketch Book of the War, is one of the most acclaimed photographic books ever published, and yet little known. Published in 1866 in two stunning volumes and with an original price tag of $150, only 200 copies were ever printed, with fewer than 14 remaining intact to this day. A complete set of the works sold at Christie’s in 2009 for $92,500, beating the $40,000 – $60,000 pre-auction estimate.

As the nation remembers the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Conflict, our goal is to bring this work of art and these images back to life and to make it widely available to those around the country, as well as around the world, who share our love of photography as well as the history of this great country.



This app is a faithful re-publication of Gardner’s 1866 masterpiece where you can enjoy:

· Alexander Gardner’s original introduction from 1866.
· Beautifully illustrated title page by renowned Civil War artist Alfred R. Waud.
· 100 Civil War images with accompanying captions written by Alexander Gardner between 1865-66, shortly after the cessation of hostilities.
· Biographies of photographer Alexander Gardner as well as acclaimed illustrator, Alfred R. Waud.
· Information on how photographers operated in the field during the early days of battlefield photography.
· Analysis of a number of Civil War photographs explaining how the photographers staged them in an effort to heighten the dramatic effect of the images, which captured the essence of the War.



* Disclaimer – This app is a faithful reproduction of an original version of this 1866 manuscript. We have left all spelling mistakes and/or other “inaccuracies” as is in order to provide a true accounting of this critically acclaimed tome. Also of note, the spelling of various words and locations has changed over the years as well, these have been left true to the 1866 copy as well.

If you’d like to see, and purchase, the full Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War app then you can find it here on iTunes.

Alexander Gardner’s Twitter stream is here, and also, like any good photographer these days, he has his own Alexander Gardner Facebook page.



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‘By The Glow Of The Jukebox’

In 1955 American photographer Robert Frank received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation grant  to travel across the United States and photograph all strata of its society. He took his family along with him for part of his series of road trips over the next two years, during which time he took 28,000 shots. Only 83 of those images were finally selected by him for publication in his seminal documentary book ‘The Americans’.

Now, more than half a century after Frank took his road trips, my good friend and colleague, American photographer Jason Eskenazi, has compiled a list of photographer’s favourite images chosen from Frank’s ‘The Americans’. It was whilst working as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, that Jason began to ask photographers he knew who were visiting the ‘The Americans: Looking In’ exhibition, about Robert Frank’s book, what their favorite image from the book was and why. In the 2 years since he quit his guard job, as he himself got back out on the road again to shoot, he compiled those answers into a book format. The resulting list of notes and thoughts, of 276 photographers from around the world, including one by myself, has now been self-published as a book entitled ‘By The Glow Of The Jukebox: The Americans List’.

‘By The Glow Of  The Jukebox’.


With the thoughts on Frank’s photos by some of the great photographers of our times, James Nachtwey, Alex Webb, Larry Fink, Josef Koudelka, Maggie Steber, Carl De Keyser and a host of others, the book gives a fascinating insight into how we read photos, what we take from them and what, as photographers, we look for.

For my entry, my favourite image, I chose the last image in Frank’s book, entitled ‘U.S. 90, en route to Del Rio, Texas’. But I shan’t tell you why I chose it, for that you have to buy the book, which is available here: Jason Eskenazi’s ‘By The Glow Of The Jukebox: The Americans List’.

And below we have the man himself, photographer Robert Frank, reading the book of thoughts on his work which was presented to him by Jason Eskenazi. Image courtesy of Clark Winter and Jason Eskenazi.

–  Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

Photographer Robert Frank reading ‘By The Glow Of The Jukebox’ by Jason Eskenazi. Photo courtesy of ©Clark Winter 2012, all rights reserved.



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11 years on.

Today whilst driving to a photography assignment near Stirling, Scotland, I heard on the radio that it is September 11th, the 11th anniversary of the World trade Centre bombings by Al Qaeda. There has been much said before about it obviously, and nothing much that I can add, other than I went there shortly afterwards and photographed. It so happened I was there at the time when New Yorkers were able to see “Ground Zero” for the first time. The streets were opening up, and police barriers were moving back on a daily basis, and I worked the street, photographing all the people who came to look, to pay their respects and  pray. I shot for a few days on those streets, and produced a set of images that I am still happy with to this day. You can see those photographs of Ground Zero/ World Trade Centre after 9/11 here.

This image below I remember being one of the early images I shot, and it perhaps drew my attention due to the Scottish Saltire flag I noticed hanging. People from all countries and all nationalities were present. That was one of the most impressive things, the cross section of humanity who came there.

A New York policeman stands on Broadway beside flowers, a Scottish flag, and cards of condolences to the victims of the September 11th 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre buildings in Lower Manhattan by Al-Qaeda terrorists. New York, America, October 2001. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2001, All rights reserved.


I wrote these words about the images at the time:

October 2001. New York, USA.

I’m in New York. With my good friend Jason I work the streets of Broadway and Lower Manhattan, edging around the perimeters of Ground Zero, photographing. We watch the police barriers move back each day, revealing more and more of the devastation. We watch as tourists and locals alike come to visit, to look, to stand silently, to pay respects. All are there; whites, blacks, hispanics, Jewish; old, young; students, business people, some from out of town, some not. Everyone stands and looks. I photograph the crowds, and no one objects. Dust still falling from the carnage behind me lands on my arms, and every day I’m there from 8am until evening, watching this cross section of humanity. I only work a section of street about 200 metres long, but all pass through, a constant, changing wave of people, a reflection of all nations. There’s a feeling in the air: poignancy, history, fear, solidarity, shock, numbness. All are standing straining to see the carnage, reflecting on the damage and the loss, the loss past and the loss to come.

New Yorkers, and visitors from all over the world, stop on lower Broadway to look at the smouldering buildings of the World Trade Centre complex, and to remember and pay tribute to the victims of the September 11th 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre buildings in Lower Manhattan by Al-Qaeda terrorists. New York, America, October 2001. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2001, all rights reserved.


And whilst on the subject this evening I saw this article about the photographs of American photographer James Nachtwey, from the actual day of September 11th 2001 itself, and how the appearance of his images has been adjusted over time.



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