To me, Yousuf Karsh is the greatest portrait photographer of ALL time.
Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) enjoyed a 60 year photographic career, photographing the portraits of iconic politicians as well as men and women of arts and sciences.
Karsh officially retired from photography in 1993.
Ironically Karsh exited, at 93, this world the same year – 2002 – as I officially entered my (second half of my Life) career as a rock photographer.
As a portrait photographer myself, let me share with you what I “see” behind these portrait images.
I see mutual respects between the iconic subjects and the photographer. Respect from both the reputation and technical expertise of the photographer.
I see the ease of the subjects towards the lens. There is no trace of tensions in the subjects’ faces or body postures.
I see the trusts of the subjects that they know that Karsh’s resulting portrait image will be jaw-dropping (Grade-A amazing) and iconic.
I see the subjects feeling honoured to be photographed by Karsh.
I see the patience of the subjects, who do not mind whatever time Karsh needs to get his iconic shots.
I urge all portrait photographers and lovers of portrait photography to check out the wondrous works of Mr. Karsh.
The following images, my favourites, are taken from his official website.
My all-time favourite portrait photograph is the one he took of Winston Churchill in 1941 (above image).
I cannot not include the tense moment between Churchill and Karsh just before Karsh pressed the camera shutter (above image). The backstory adds to the awesomeness of the resultant iconic portrait.
Karsh said, “Forgive me, sir” and plucked the cigar out of Churchill’s mouth.
Whenever I see the portrait, I always have the tense backstory embedded in my subconscious mind.
Queen Elizabeth II (above image).
Walt Disney (above image).
Martin Luther King Jr. (above image).
Muhammad Ali (above image).
Albert Einstein (above image).
Yousuf Karsh probably briefing the relaxed (amused?) physics legend Albert Einstein about his vision for the shoot (above internet image).
Ernest Hemingway (above image).
The legend Ernest Hemingway with his equally legendary photographer, Yousuf Karsh (above internet image). As noted, Karsh is always impeccably dressed in his dapper suits.
Do check out Karsh’s awesome portrait photography at his official website. May his amazing legacy live on.
Yousuf Karsh Rocks!