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Yousef Karsh at Ryerson

Yousef Karsh, world renowned photographer best known for his portraits of the many people who shaped the 20th century, visited Ryerson on December 4, 1957 to interview third year photography students for a position as one of his assistants.

Reginald Soame and Yousef Karsh
Ryerson Director of the School of Photographic Arts Reginald Soame and Yousef Karsh. (RG

This visit was featured in the Ryersonian newspaper.

Story courtesy of the Ryersonian Newspaper
News story published December 5, 1957. (courtesy of the Ryersonian Newspaper)

Yousef Karsh, born December 23, 1908 in Armenia, immigrated to Canada in 1925 to live with his uncle, a photographer, in Sherbrooke, Quebec. This move would change his life. His original goal in life was to be a surgeon. In 1926 he went to work for his uncle and then apprenticed with John Garo in Boston. In 1931 he opened his own studio in Ottawa. The turning point in his career was befriending then Prime Minister of Canada William Lyon MacKenzie King. This friendship gave him the opportunity to photograph English Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1941, which Karsh felt changed his life.

He went on to do over 15 000 portrait sittings with some of the most influential people of the 20th Century. He travelled to London during WW II, photographing the Royal Family and others. In 1952 he began what would become a 17 month assignment with MacLean’s magazine documenting a post-war Canada.

He closed his Ottawa studio in June of 1992 and stopped taking commercial assignments as well. Yousef Karsh died July 13, 2002.

To learn more about Yousef Karsh visit 

Special Collections has two Karsh photographs:

2008.001.1498.2 Portrait of a Soldier

2008.001.1498.3 Portrait of J. Gordon Forgo

The Ryerson Library also has many books and audio visual materials including: