In about 1922 their family escaped from the Armenian Genocide. A couple of years later Yousuf Karsh was sent to Canada and lived with his Uncle Nakash in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Uncle Nakash sent him to apprentice with John Garo of Boston, prominent portrait photographer of the era.
Malak followed his brother in 1937 and learned the photography trade.
Assisting Malak Karsh – 1997
I worked with Malak for two weeks in 1997 – assisting him on his trip around the Yukon. He was 82 years old and still working full time. I asked “Are you ever going to retire?” He replied “Retirement is for doing what you really love.” He retired at a really early age, then!
My Biggest Lesson
What struck me most about their photo careers was not their creative work but their burning desire to succeed in their field. And not only normal success. They wanted international prominence and succeeded.
Anything is possible. They knew that. They overcame an attempted extermination and life obstacles with a drive rarely seen otherwise. How did they reach their fame and prominence in the photo world? With an attitude of success and a drive to find a way around the obstacles in their way.
Upcoming Karsh Events
There are two events coming up that pays tribute to their work:
- Yousuf Karsh and Edward Steichen: The Art of the Celebrity Portrait at the National Gallery
- Festival Karsh presented by Library and Archives Canada, the Portrait Gallery of Canada and the Canada Science and Technology Museum