Inspiration of Yousef Karsh and Nadav Kander

Yousef Karsh was a well-known photographer working in the 20th century. He was described as patient with his work, waiting for an interesting moment rather than just snapping away at a his subjects. He believed there was a difference between casually speaking to the subject during a shoot rather than bombarding them with excessive talk or questions and making them too distracted to sit and take a photo. Karsh captured the essence of decency and humanity even in the nastiest of people. He was restless and believed despite all his work and experiences, his best photo was yet to be composed.

In his work, Karsh uses many different lighting techniques such as back/rim light, front light, broad and strip light  . This photo is an example of strip light, Karsh place two lights somewhat behind the subject bring the audiences’ eye to the subjects features while leaving the face in shadow. This gives a 3-dimentional effect like the subject is leaning closer out of the frame.

Nadav Kander is an active photographer working through portraits, landscapes, film and commercial medium. He fell in love with the technical aspects of photography as a child putting long hours into practicing his craft. Kander received no formal education in photography but focused on the abstract and surrounding area in a photo before he included a subject . Naturally, he fell more into landscape photography not including people in his photos until he was 30. When he finally did venture into portraits it was less about who was in the pictures and more about recognizing the human condition.


In one example, Kander is using both main and background light photographing a close-up of Obama’s face, with a more questioning or relaxed experession.  In the other example, its a wider shot, using mostly 3 point lighting with some shadow,adding more focus on the concentrated expression.  In his portraits, Kander also utilizes color, light,and shadow to communicate the mood of the photo.

1 thought on “Inspiration of Yousef Karsh and Nadav Kander

  1. rmichals

    Karsh is most famous for his photograph of Winston Churchill. you can read the story here.
    In this case Karsh did not snap away but took one image after aggravating Churchill by taking away his cigar.

    when we use the term broad when talking about portrait photography, we generally mean that the face is in a 3/4 view as here but that the light is falling on the side of the face with the visible ear. Not the side of the face with the features. these portraits of Obama are both examples however atypical of short light.


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