Yousuf Karsh was born on December 23, 1908 in Marden, Ottoman Empire. That is
present day Turkey now. Karsh was born into an armenian family. He was born in a harsh time
period called the “Armenian Genocide.” Unfortunately some of his family was murdered but the
rest were able to escape on a month long journey to a refugee camp in Syria in 1922. Shortly
after his family sent him to Canada in 1923 by boat. He stayed with his maternal uncle in
Quebec. His uncle was a portrait photographer and taught Karsh the art of it all. He also gave
Yousuf his first camera. It was called the “Box Brownie Camera.”
Karsh was finally on his own when he moved to Ottawa and set up his first studio in
1932. Up until he moved again in 1972 he made a name for himself being the artist he is and
was later regarded as “Karsh of Ottawa.” His first true success was when he caught the
attention of the Canadian Prime Minister. The Prime Minister helped Karsh arrange
“photographing visiting dignitaries.”
He photographed “anyone who was anyone.” This means to me that everyone was
special enough to be art. Karsh photographed military leaders, political figures. Celebrities,
writers, artists, musicians and scientists. He didn’t just photograph the average person; he
wanted every photo to have a meaning and be influential to at least one person.
Karsh was married to two different women throughout his life. His first wife was Solange
Gethier. She was a star at the Little Ottawa Theatre. He met her there in 1933. They fell in love
and moved into an apartment together in 1940. Sadly, she died of cancer in 1961. Yousuf was
Later then married Estrellita Maria Nachbar. She was 21 years and they got married in August
1962. They had no children and lived in a third floor suite and maintained Little Wings.
Karsh is relished as Canada’s leading portrait photographer. Better yet he is
known as one of the best photographers of the art-full 20th century. He retired in June, 1992 at
age 83. Then he later closed his studio and moved to Boston in 1997. By the time he died his
work was displayed in studios all over the world. Yousuf Karsh was truly loved and
revolutionized the art world as we know it.
All Karsh’s pictures capture true emotion. In my eyes I see every
picture with a vision. It is as if each person in the picture is saying theres something better for us
out there. He captures all these photos with true vision.