I recently did a post in which Doug of WeggieBoy reminded me of Yousuf Karsh, a famous Canadian photographer. So I would like to introduce you to him in today’s post.
Yousuf Karsh was born on December 23, 1908, in Mardin, a city in the eastern Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey). His childhood wasn’t to be envied in the least. He grew up during the Armenian Genocide. He is quoted as saying, “I saw relatives massacred; my sister died of starvation as we were driven from village to village.” [Lucas, Dean (2007). “Famous Pictures Magazine – Churchill’s Portrait”. Famous Pictures Magazine.]
When he reached the age of 16, his parents sent Yousuf to live with his uncle George Nakash, a photographer in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. Karsh would assist in his uncle’s studio. Nakash saw great potential in his nephew and in 1928 arranged for Karsh to apprentice with portrait photographer John Garo in Boston, Massachusetts, United States.
Four years later, he returned to Canada. In 1931 he started working with photographer, John Powls, in his studio at 130 Sparks Street in Ottawa, Ontario. When Powls retired in 1933, Karsh took over the studio. His first solo exhibition was in 1936 at the Château Laurier hotel.
Prime Minister Mackenzie King discovered Karsh, and he was so impressed that he arranged introductions with visiting dignitaries for portrait sittings. Karsh’s work further attracted the attention of various celebrities. On December 30, 1941, he took this now iconic photograph of Winston Churchill. His career took off and he became internationally known for his portraits.
He moved his studio into the Château Laurier hotel in 1973, and it remained there until he retired in 1992.
In the late 1990s Karsh moved to Boston. On July 13, 2002, aged 93, he died at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital after complications following surgery. He was laid to rest at Notre Dame Cemetery in Ottawa.
A good place to see Karsh’s portraits is through Google. Another place to visit would be his Official Website. Another site that I only discovered today is PhotoQuotes (Quotations from the world of photography). I also recommend visiting The Ottawa Citizen.