Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Yousuf Karsh

It was December 1941, 2 weeks after Pearl Harbor and Winston Churchill was addressing the Canadian House of Commons. Intercepted by a photographer immediately after the proceedings, Churchill was not impressed, particularly when this photographer physically pulled the iconic cigar from Churchill's mouth.

The angry scowl has become one of the most famous photographs ever taken. But look deeper into Churchill's face and you can see a man single-handedly carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Even as the famous morale booster, Winston knew that the allies' situation was desperate, he was worried, tired and alone. The simple portrait is true to all these emotions.

Yousef Karsh was the photographer. Armenian born but Canadian by naturalization he went on to take so many of the iconic portraits through which we have come to know the subjects. From Queen Elizabeth to Bogart, Ernest Hemmingway to Audrey Hepburn, Karsh's intricate lighting and plate camera became our permanent window into these characters.

His momory and images are captured in this tribute website. As interesting as the images themselves, are the short writings by Karsh about his experiences with his subjects. Amusing, poignent and sometimes downright funny, the pages with accompanying pictures make for great reading.

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