Yousuf Karsh and Nadav Kandar are two photographers who have documented some of the many faces of historical figures throughout our lifetime. Karsh was actively documenting public figures and icons through the 20th century, and Kandar began shooting in the mid to late 20th Century to present day. Both of them use exciting and dramatic lighting that really help evoke emotion as well as mood and are great tools to be aware of in one’s own photography.
Yousuf’s photos are primarily shot in black and white and for that matter are very contrasty which emphasize the shadows on his subjects very well. The shadows seem to really highlight the subjects facial expression and really gives them a specific identity. His photo of Nelson Mandela really emulates exactly how one could imagine Nelson Mandela being. He is a positive and glowing icon. And that is how Karsh manages to capture him. There is backlighting sort of glowing off of his shoulders that gives off this angelic feel. Mandela is posed with his head resting on his hand and he has a relaxed smile on his face. The lighting highlights his smile and cheeks which emphasize his friendliness and caring attitude. It sort of captures a overall mood of optimism and hope.
It is almost as if Nadav picks up where Yousuf has left off. He continues to document our present day icons but this time bringing in a new dimension which is color. Color can really evoke mood and emotion and Nadav has done so in using color in his portraits. Using washed out blues in some of his portraits bring in an element of cool gloominess. His portrait of Obama has similar characteristics to Yousuf’s photo of Mandela. Using a sort of glowing backlight to give a highlight to the figure. Obama is facing down and you are only getting a side view of his face. Obama has a stern and concerned look on his face. It is as if the photograph is trying to speak on how 8 year of serving the United States has aged him.