Yousef Karsh has been called the ‘Ansel Adams of Portraits” I don’t think you can find a better compliment than that. I came across his work and the moment I’d seen one of his photos I was captured by the intensity of the character especially through the eyes, the window to the soul.
Karsh quoted this which I had to include as it is so powerful, symbolic and something that I want to try and capture myself.
“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.”
He captures the raw essence of a human being, not just their face but their soul, their emotion, you really feel the connection of the photographer to the portrait and he reveals their lives in one image. They are so incredibly moving and powerful. But how did he capture them, how did he convey such emotion. It seems he really engaged with the subject before taking photos, one especially moving account was with Helen Keller http://www.karsh.org/#/the_work/portraits/helen_keller_polly_thompson
While asking myself this question of how his work is so powerful I came across this article which answered all the questions for me.
One of the things that stands out is that he waited until the pure emotion was shining in their eyes and captured those incredible images