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Frazier Public Relations

628 Kinvarra Place Purcellville VA 20132 US

Frazier Public Relations

Books, Film, Art, Music & Business Promotion

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Blog

Photographs and Memories

Posted on September 30, 2013 at 10:50 AM
It was a great honor to interview photographer Richard Lee Benson last night.  Richard Lee Benson’s five-decades long career included photographing John Wayne, Bob Hope, Erte, Danny Thomas, Willie Nelson, Santana, Joe DiMaggio, Faye Dunaway, Reggie Jackson, Halston, Dianna Ross, Brooke Shields, Dick Clark, Jack Nicholson, Jose Feliciano, Shaq, Alan Alda, and too many more to name. 
 
Mr. Benson’s career began as a U.S. Army photographer and journalist stationed in the United States and Viet Nam.  He went on to work for Esquire Magazine for a short period before he started his own photography studio in NYC where he had a tremendous opportunity to meet and shoot the high powered and the famous of NYC, the Nation, and the World. 
 
Later, his move to Florida gave him the opportunity to shoot commercial photos and broadcast video for CBS Sports, Bloomberg Communications, MSNBC, and E! Entertainment.  He once interviewed 136 year old Charlie Smith, a former slave and member of the Jesse James Gang. 
 
Benson is now semi-retired but, like all brilliant creative people, just can’t stop working.  He is finishing work on a book containing photos of interesting people he meets while touring the United States.   He is open to opportunity, completely authentic, and still passionate about telling stories through his work.  He is a true artist.
 
The interview made me think of photography on a personal level, what it means to me and to all of us as we travel on this conveyer belt called life:
In our lifetimes, we have never been without photography.  At the personal level, we have photos documenting every important part of our lives---school photos, christening photos, baby photos, wedding photos, anniversary photos, dad sleeping in his chair photos, fishing photos, skiing photos, sports pictures made into magnets on the refrigerator photos. We own every kind of photo for every type of occasion.  And it is perhaps because of a photo’s intimacy and familiarity that make it difficult to call it “art.”  It seems sad that the very accessibility of photography reduces its importance or the perception of its importance.  Until time passes.  And then photographs are the only evidence we have that what our brain remembers is true.  I think photos are wonderful treasures…personal, poignant, and precious.  They recall a place in time.  And they will live on forever.
 
We are lucky to enjoy photos memorializing our lives and the events that surround us during our lifetime.  When I was a kid, there was a marvelous newspaper, The Whidbey Press, with a magnificent editor who was also a photographer.  His name was Wallie Funk.  He had the energy of 10 people and he seemed to be everywhere-- taking shots of people in the crowd at games, players as they ran onto the gym floor or were hauled off the football field, parade participants, jets flying overhead, Flags flying, honors given, Navy Squadron Families greeting loved ones after a 9 month deployment.  His newspaper pages were filled with Town Council meetings, band performances, graduations and Homecomings---everyday life full of everyday people.  He recorded every moment, every emotion and he made us all part of his community.  He made our lives feel important and his magical photos helped us understand those people around us who were different… but the same.  He built a tremendous body of work that lives on in our collective memories, a vast tapestry of Island life—colorful, beautiful, American to the core.  Every week he wove more evidence of our passage through time, illuminating truth, and spotlighting his vision of our little town between the pages of weekly newsprint.  Those pages were our childhood, they were our community.  He celebrated the human spirit and it was through his eye that we graduated to an enlightened understanding of our little town that made us all part of something greater than ourselves--more appreciative, sensitive, and willing to embrace humanity …..He created and punctuated our memories.  He made us notice more, feel stronger, celebrate louder, care more.  And the acknowledgment through his work made us look closer and gave us an appreciation for the simple things we might have missed without his passion to share. He was dedicated to tell his story.  And that is the story we remember.  That is the town we cherish.
 
Bless the artists and the visionaries who make us feel, make us better for having experienced their work.   Thank you, Wallie Funk.
 

Categories: Thoughts and Musings

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6:01 AM on February 18, 2014 
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