Sunday, May 29, 2011

Yousuf Karsh: Regarding Heroes

I finally got to check out the Yousuf Karsh exhibit at the Glenbow Museum here in Calgary. I have to say I was amazed and its unfortunate I didn't get to see it sooner.  Like most people I have seen a number of his images but to see them in person, full sized on photo paper was unbelievable.

Karsh emigrated to Canada from Armenia as a teenager at the age of 17. After working for his uncle in his studio, Karsh  apprenticed to H. Garo  in Boston. In 1931, Yousuf Karsh opened his own studio in Ottawa and ten years later, he photographed Winston Churchill creating an image that truly ignited his career as a photographer.

Winston Churchill - Image from 

Karsh's images draw heavily on film noir atmosphere and dramatic lighting. Looking at his images online you see the deep shadows and the simple non-distracting backgrounds. Seeing it in person you get an even better appreciation of this.

I was also struck by the prominence of the subjects hands in his portraits. It was interesting how much importance he put on them and you really got a sense of the character of the person.

This exhibit is definitely worth checking out before it ends on June 15th.