Contact: Meredith Dickenson or Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7654

March 26, 2003

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: U.S. PRESIDENTS THROUGH THE LENS OF HARRY BENSON

SMU EXHIBIT APRIL 7-- MAY 23 PRESENTS FAMOUS PHOTOS OF AMERICA'S LEADERS IN CANDID MOMENTS

DALLAS (SMU) -- Fly-on-the-wall photojournalist Harry Benson has covered every American president since Eisenhower to George W. Bush, capturing the essence of their personalities in a single, era-defining frame. On assignment for Vanity Fair, Life and other magazines, Benson's photos have left indelible impressions on the nation:

  • Ronald Reagan with Nancy on horseback in California
  • Richard Nixon resigning the presidency with Pat in the background
  • George W. Bush in cowboy boots striking a defiant pose

From April 7 to May 23, fifty of Benson's photographs will be on display in the Journalism wing of SMU's Umphrey Lee Building, 3300 Dyer Street. The exhibit "First Families: Photographs by Harry Benson from Eisenhower to George W. Bush" is free and open to the public. Hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Images from the exhibit are available at ftp://ftp.abramsbooks.com/outgoing%20files/Publicity/Spring%2003%20Abrams/
(Copyright images for one-time use only; click on PresMrsReagan jpegs)

Dallas is the only Texas city to host the exhibit, which coincides with a new book by Benson, The President & Mrs. Reagan: An American Love Story (Harry N. Abrams; May 2003; $19.95). It's a personal look at the famous first couples' life together as photographed by Benson. From May 5-6, Benson will visit SMU as part of his national book tour. While at SMU, he will give Vice President Dick Cheney a private tour of the exhibit.

A photojournalist for more than 50 years, Benson began his American career covering the Beatles on their first U.S. tour (http://www.harrybenson.com/) Much of his fame as a photographer is the closeness with which he gets to his subjects.

"Too many photographers dance around the edges of a story," Benson says. "They're afraid of the center. I go for the heart of the story the minute I get off the plane. The first and last pictures you take are often the key pictures of a story."


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