8 Week Portrait Class - Karsh

This is part 2 in an 8 part series about my discoveries, inspiration and creations with Don Giannatti’s 8 Week Portrait Class.

Week 2 we are studying Yousuf Karsh, a master of studio lights and traditional portraiture. Karsh had a gift for capturing the essence of his subject. He says, “Within every man and woman a secret is hidden and as a photographer it is my task to reveal it if I can”. In many instances, the subject’s hands were an important part of Karsh’s composition. He had a distinct practice of lighting the hands separately.

I found in most of Karsh’s work he uses more than one light, sometimes up to four. An obvious contrast to Skrebneski’s usual one light. Karsh’s posing, composition and lighting is also more traditional where as Skrebneski seems to be more creative and freer for exploration of the subject and his intentional blur. Karsh did use one light for his profile images, a famous one being of Jacques Cousteau. My most favourite Karsh image is of George Bernard Shaw. The lighting, composition and character is just superb.

While I can understand and appreciate Karsh’s deliberate lighting style which suited his work, I’m a fan of simplicity. One light, two at most. I’m sure more lights will have their application depending on the subject and their requirements, always good to have another idea (tool) in the toolbox and to never say never. So, my Karsh inspired images made this week were using one and two lights with a white reflector. I deliberately wanted to include the hands in first image and make them part of the story. Once again thanks to my beautiful model Millie, always fun to work with!