Dave Benett knows what it takes to get the perfect shot. For four decades, the Mauritian-born British photographer has been pointing his lens at some of the most fascinating figures of our time.
He began his career as a specialist news photographer, capturing the Brixton riots of 1981, then the trials at the Old Bailey, before immersing himself fully in the London party scene.
In the VIPs of the most exclusive clubs, behind the scenes at award ceremonies or backstage in the West End. She took the photographs that would cement his reputation as the chosen photographer of celebrities.
Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother celebrating the latter’s 99th birthday. Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss at a 1999 Versace show wearing chainmail minidresses. Sienna Miller playing with Mick Jagger at the premiere of Alfie by Jude Law. What distinguishes his images is that they are incredibly glamorous and seductive, but at the same time relaxed and happy. A rare alchemy that can only be achieved with the implicit trust of his illustrious models.
Now a new exhibition at the JD Malat Gallery in Mayfair entitled Great Shot, Kid will celebrate your exceptional work. Its premiere is scheduled from February 17 to March 8 and will include many of his most famous shots. From Paris Hilton’s 21st birthday dance to Lady Di laughing with Liza Minnelli, it will include never-before-seen footage.
“Photographers of my generation have been very lucky.” comments Benett. “I know the ’60s were awesome. But the changes we’ve seen in fashion, music and art [desde los años 80 hasta ahora] they are amazing. I’m not an exhibition guy, I’m a bit shy, but it will be great to see it all in one place.”.
Characteristically, it also has a few tricks up its sleeve. “In the exhibition, I am going to have another room on the ground floor that is more immersive”he adds. “We will project about 500 images on the walls. I want people to come down with their glasses of champagne and have fun exploring it.”.
Before the opening, Benett takes a look at the exhibition sharing the stories behind his most iconic photographs.
Kate Moss dazzling the crowd at her book launch in 2012
“I met Kate and Naomi around the same time. They were both 17 or 18 years old. Kate was the muse of many people. The camera loves her. We have laughed a lot together. We also partied together a bit [risas]. She has grown so beautifully. And now, with her daughter, Kate submitted my name for Lila’s first press release. It’s beautiful to have her trust.”
Princess Diana gossiping with Liza Minnelli in 1991
“I am not a real photographer. But royalty walks into my life, which means [mi] relationship [con ellos] it’s very different. Over the years, Diana and I built this relationship where she knew that if I was at a party, I wasn’t going to look for something else or try to embarrass her in any way. So often people would say to her, ‘Mr. Benett is our photographer,’ and she would say, ‘Okay.’ That was lovely. So for this shot, we were the in-house photographers for the movie Stepping Out and we were at the Langham Hotel. You could tell Diana was so happy. She came to the party in private. She was sitting with Liza, and the producers said, ‘You have eight seconds to take a picture.’ And I don’t know what Liza was saying to him, but she started laughing. I took the photo and that was it. It’s the really natural laugh and Liza seems to be gossiping, she just made it work.”