Richard Mead Atwater Benson was born in Newport, Rhode Island on November 8, 1943. He dropped out of Brown University because he wanted to work with his hands and see the world. He enlisted in the Navy. He studied optical repair and fixed telescopes, cameras, and binoculars. He became a photographer and taught at Yale University for more than 30 years. He was the art school dean from 1996 to 2006. He developed innovative techniques to print photographs that had the artistic depth of paintings. His books included The Printed Picture and North South East West. He died from heart failure on June 22, 2017 at the age of 73.