Author Archives: Jeremy

Yousuf Karsh and Nadav Kandar

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.


Dawoud Bey – Class Pictures

Dawoud Bey’s classroom series is an excellent photo series that captures the absolute essence of honest expression.  Each of the images that are shown on the site have a very individualistic quality about them. Bey uses posing as well as framing to emphasize the expression of each of his subjects.  None of the subjects are placed up against a wall and shot straight on. Instead they are carefully placed about the classroom, framed in the center but their posture differentiates which adds an interesting quality to the photo.  The background is out of focus and changes with each subject, but helps to draw interest into the focus of the subject which tends to be there eyes. And each subject seems to speak something different through the language of their gaze. The photo of “Antoine” shows a somewhat optimistic look in his eyes and his overall posture seems relaxed.  While on the other hand “Kevin” leans in to the camera with a strong sense of sterness being said with his eyes.


Bey has a great way of capturing the descriptions of the students through the images.  Shalanta speaks on the importance of positivity surrounding her, and from her look you may be intimidated but she’s truly a “fun-going” person.  This is completely understood from the image itself. Without even reading the description the image describes her as confident from her expression and the way she carries herself.  Yet her smile emphasizes that behind the confidence she is also a caring and kind person.


Aside from the subjects. Dawoud uses lighting that really highlights the subjects face.  The emphasis of each of the photos lands on the face, which is the most important part in each of these images.  Since the facial expression, and eyes are what immediately tell us a story.