Pat Benic is a 1970 graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, as well as a graduate of nearby Chartiers-Houston High School.
At W&J he majored in mathematics and graduated cum laude, while winning three President Athletic Conference (PAC) wrestling championships. He also took one photography class. After college, he turned down an actuary position with an insurance firm to pursue his love of news photography.
For nearly 50 years since then he has traveled the world as a news photographer, sports photographer, and photo director for two of the world’s leading wire services, United Press International (UPI) and Reuters.
Over that time he has been based in Pittsburgh, New Orleans, New York, Hong Kong, London and Washington, DC. From 1985 to 2000, he was the Chief Photographer for Reuters, based in Hong Kong, London and Washington. He is now the Director of Photography for UPI in Washington.
His long foreign career began while he was based in New Orleans in the late 1970’s. On short notice in 1979, he was sent for more than two months to the Khyber Pass along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan to photograph the Soviet invasion, the refugee situation, the American response, and the rise of the Afghan Mujahideen.
Since then he has photographed dozens of major news stories, including
- In 1981 in Egypt he covered the Anwar Sadat assassination and subsequent Hosni Mubarak election;
- In 1986 he photographed a month-long Pope John Paul II trip to India;
- Later in 1986 he was in Manila to cover the People’s Revolution that that brought Corazon Aquino to power as Ferdinand Marcos clung on after losing the marred Philippines presidential election;
- In 1989 he covered both the massacre in Tiananmen Square and the fall of the Berlin Wall;
- In 1990-91 he spent six months in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq during the first Gulf War; and
- In 1991 he was in Moscow for the collapse of the Soviet Union;
- In 1994 he was in South Africa for the election that brought Nelson Mandela peacefully to power.
Over all those years he has also photographed countless major sporting events, including
- twelve Olympic Games, starting with the 1980 Moscow games;
- the 1987 America’s Cup race in Australia;
- multiple World Cup soccer tournaments, and even World Cup Cricket in India and Pakistan;
- numerous Super Bowls, World Series, and major golf championships.
His streak of photographing 13 straight baseball World Series came to an end in 1985 when he instead covered Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s first Royal Visit to Australia.
In the past 20 years he has covered Space Shuttle launches, and more recently the SpaceX Dragon Crew launches from the Kennedy Space Center.
Based in Washington since 1997, his main focus is the White House and Capitol Hill, while directing photo coverage elsewhere. This work has included the last four U.S. presidential campaigns and inaugurations.
On January 6, 2021, while on assignment in the House of Representatives Chamber during certification of the presidential election, he photographed an angry mob pounding on the Chamber’s entrance after they crashed through police lines to invade the Capitol Building while Congress members fled in fear through a maze of tunnels to safety.
- Eyewitness to history: W&J grad, photojournalist at the Capitol last Wednesday Observer-Reporter.com, January 2021
- From the President’s Wrestling Mat to the United States Presidential Inauguration: The Benic Brothers JayConnected, W&J College