Karsh Signature

Yousuf Karsh, master photographer of the 20th century

RTÉ Archives

Jean Sibelius, 1948

Irish national television and radio broadcaster RTÉ has an interview with Yousuf Karsh available in their online archives. It is an episode of their program ‘Broadsheet’ which was originally broadcast on June 5, 1963. “The Armenian-Canadian Yousuf Karsh talks about the art of portrait photographer.”

“Yousuf Karsh has photographed royalty, popes, world leaders, actors, writers and artists. On a one day visit to Ireland he explains how he approaches his subjects… On the subject of preparation, Yousuf Karsh prepares as much as he can prior to meeting the person he will photograph, researching and reading about them. In the case of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, he listened to his music. So when he meets them, he feels as if he already knows them.”

I’m not a total stranger, and at once there is something tangible that brings a rapport, brings an immediate meeting of minds.

I try to photograph all that the person stands for… that is very difficult to explain. But if I can combine many moods into one photograph, consummation of what that personality stands for, then I have accomplished my aim.

Watch the whole interview (7 mins).