Karsh Signature

Yousuf Karsh, master photographer of the 20th century

Apollo 11

Apollo 11 crew, 1969. Michael Collins, Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin, Neil Armstrong
Michael Collins, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, 1969

A follower on Instagram asked whether there was a story to go with Karsh’s meeting with the Apollo 11 astronauts; the story can be found in Karsh Portraits (1976, New York Graphic Society and University of Toronto Press).

The story tells of how Mr and Mrs Karsh were late to arrive at NASA, having been watching open-heart surgery on a young boy by ground-breaking surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey, in Houston, (the details of which Mrs. Karsh would later go on to discuss with Buzz Aldrin.)

Here is an excerpt: “(The Apollo crew) had spent the preceding three weeks in quarantine as a precaution against any lunar organisms they might have carried back to earth. Now they were in high spirits. Remembering the cautionary signs which had surrounded them, they playfully posted one outside my temporary studio: ‘Karsh. No Contamination.’ On arrival at NASA later than scheduled, I took Neil Armstrong immediately into the astronaut library which served as my studio.

After this (group) photograph was made, Collins took a long relief map of the moon and, with mock solemnity, and an exaggerated flourish of his pen, inscribed one of the yet-unnamed craters as ‘Karsh Crater.’ Later, Armstrong sent us a print of the famous photograph that showed his boot and his footstep in the moondust. On it he wrote: ‘That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind,’ his first words on the moon, and added, ‘with the (admiration and) best wishes of the photographer.’”

As it happens, a crater on Mercury was named after Yousuf Karsh in 2015. The Karsh Crater has a diameter of 58 kilometers. Read more.

Neil Armstrong print to Karsh, 1969