Journal

#MakePortraits: Monday Spotlight: Yousuf Karsh

 
How I wish that mankind would take the sunrise for their slogan and leave the shadows of sunset behind them.
— Helen Keller to Yousuf Karsh
 

I recently stumbled upon the work of Yousuf Karsh, an Armenian born survivor of the genocide against his people & one of the most masterful portraitists of all time. Digging deeper into his work, I found his official website, which pairs his astounding work with anecdotal stories behind the images.

 
 

We live in an age when making a portrait requires very little work — by that I mean our cameras fit in our pockets & the images are re-touched and shared within seconds of taking them — and as I got lost in the black and white images of Karsh's portrait gallery, I couldn't help but think how much we have to learn from the subtle bits of wisdom in archives like this.

#MakePortraits: Monday started as a personal exercise on Instagram, but has grown into a quest to become fluent in the craft. Reading these words from Yousuf, who by every measure is a master, gives me hope that the quest I'm on — and, I hope we are on this quest together — is a worthwhile one:

 
...I believe the past has no claim on greatness, for such arresting personalities are always among us. Nor can we yet judge what lessons remain to be learned from the young. I know only that my quest continues.
 

We are the young — though I am much too quickly escaping that classification — and I believe that many of those lessons we have yet to learn are locked up in archives like this. It is my goal to find them in hopes that that, each week, we can, together, continue to take the sunrise for our slogan.


Related Content

Source: http://www.karsh.org

Lens

My RSS feeds are many & varied... but one of my favorites is a new visual journalism blog that the New York Times runs called LENS. It's special for many reasons, like big images in a simple, unobtrusive design, a straightforward navigational structure that doesn't feel tired or boring and quality, original content like images from the Archives, they publish timely and striking photojournalism every day, showcase photographers, talk shop and on and on.

But, more than anything else, I think LENS is special because of the access it gives a viewer into the story behind the story. Take, for example, the story that came up Tuesday - Behind the Scenes: Tank Man of Tiananmen, which digs into the iconic image from the 1989 protest on Tiananmen Square in China. It happend on June 5th, 1989 - I was eleven years old, but the image was seared into my brain.

It may be the single most memorable image of my generation - and there are four versions. Who knew, right?

photo by Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos

photo by Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos

LENS takes you behind the scenes of one of recent histories most famous photographs and relates the story in the voice of the four men who shot the image - four photographers, four perspectives, four separate creative choices and four striking images. That's why it's one of my first stops every morning.

EDIT** Apparently the feature that ran Tuesday on LENS brought out a new, never before seen image of Tank Man shot by Terril Jones at street level. Jones' story shows that timing is everything in journalism and is a great example of how a single image can define a story and the result that has on other images.