Monday, December 30, 2013

An Excuse to Spend Time with Yousuf Karsh

My dad was a carpenter but he had many interests throughout his life and, when he was interested in something, he totally immersed himself in it. This has proven to be instructive for me as I do research for whatever I happen to be writing. Research is the key to creating that feeling of authenticity. I have often thought I have to read a hundred books before I can start a new one.

One of Dad's great loves was photography. He collected hundreds of books on photography and spent a lot of time reading them. I never cared a whole lot about photography itself but I loved the books he had on portrait photography. I remember paging through them mesmerized by the beautiful, dramatic faces—mostly in black and white. It was looking at those faces that taught me that beauty is difficult to define. Sometimes the homeliest faces are the most beautiful in their own way. I especially remember a book he had of portraits by Yousuf Karsh.

Karsh was born in the Ottoman Empire—what is now Turkey—and became a Canadian citizen. He studied photography here in Boston and throughout his life he created some of the most astonishing portraits ever made. It was said that he liked to spend time with his subjects whenever possible to study them before he photographed them.

I have begun work on a new Beacon Hill Chronicle story. This one will delve into the art world of Boston—both the popular and the mysterious. As I was compiling interesting information I had to include a portrait of the woman artist at the center of my tale and, naturally, I thought of Karsh. It gave me an excuse to spend time reading about him and looking at his portraits and that was a treat. So here, for your enjoyment, are just a few of them. You can find more at the Karsh Gallery Web Site.
 Albert Einstein
 Fidel Castro
 Princess Grace
 Grey Owl
 Ernest Hemingway
 Audrey Hepburn
 Humphrey Bogart
Marion Anderson

Enjoy and thanks for reading.  

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