Yousef Karsh

Posted by on October 2, 2012

yosef karsh“Within every man and woman a secret is hidden, and as a photographer it is my task to reveal it if I can. The revelation, if it comes at all, will come in a small fraction of a second with an unconscious gesture, a gleam of the eye, a brief lifting of the mask that all humans wear to conceal their innermost selves from the world. In that fleeting interval of opportunity the photographer must act or lose his prize.”   ~ Yousef Karsh

With Yousef Karsh, every single photo is a masterpiece.  You can’t look at any one of his photos and wonder why the photographer got famous.  His portraits truly speak volumes about the person.  He is the Ansel Adams of portraiture.

Karsh is quoted as saying, “Within every man and woman a secret is hidden, and as a photographer it is my task to reveal it if I can. The revelation, if it comes at all, will come in a small fraction of a second with an unconscious gesture, a gleam of the eye, a brief lifting of the mask that all humans wear to conceal their innermost selves from the world. In that fleeting interval of opportunity the photographer must act or lose his prize.”  Many photographers claim to capture such moments, but Karsh truly had a gift for taking portraits that communicate.  You see one of his portraits and you feel like you truly understand the model.

Another interesting fact about Yousef Karsh is that he always lit the hands of the subject separately from the lighting on the rest of the person.  He felt that the hands were a vital part of the story of any portrait.

What you can learn from Yousef Karsh: Never take a portrait that doesn’t speak something about the person.  Pay attention to the hands as an important part of the story.  Be super famous and rich enough to own a 76-room house in Manhattan.  Accomplish any of those things (especially the last one, which is true about him) and you’ll be better off for reading about his life.

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