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It is often said that the night is darkest just before the dawn. Just when life seems hopeless and all seems to be lost, we enter the greatest phase of our life. This is certainly true for Yousef Karsh, who grew up in the Ottoman Empire during the Armenian Genocide. He escaped to Canada to live with his uncle and became on the of the greatest portrait photographers of the 20th century. 
Yousef (born Hosvep Karsh) was born on December 23, 1908 in Mardin, Diyarbekir, Vilayet, in the Ottoman Empire. His parents were Amsih Karsh and Bahai Nakash. His father Amsih was a merchant. Yousef was ethnically Armenian. Yousef grew up in a time when being an Armenian in the Ottoman Empire was not safe. Yousef grew up during the infamous Armenian Genocide. Many of Yousef’s family members were killed during his early years. His family escaped to a refugee camp in Aleppo, Syria by hitching a ride with a Kurdish caravan in the year 1922. In 1923 his family sent him to Canada to live with his uncle. On December 23, 1923 he arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia by boat from Beirut and immediately went to Sherbrooke, Quebec to live with his uncle. His uncle was a portrait photographer, and set Yousef on his path in life when he gave him his first Box Brownie camera.
From 1928 to 1931 Yousef apprenticed under John Garo, a prominent Armenian photographer living in Boston. Garo made a name for himself by taking portraits of famous Boston celebrities. This is how Karsh came into the profession of portrait photography. Karsh moved back to Canada and set up a studio in Ottawa. His big break came when he took a portrait of the Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King. This proved to be an excellent career move for Karsh, as King set up Karsk with visiting dignitaries who came to Canada. 
Karsh came into world wide fame when he took a portrait of Winston Churchill in 1941. The photo is famous for Churchill’s posture and stoic facial expression, which came to represent the feeling of persistence the English people felt during World War Two. Throughout the war, Karsh continued to take pictures of many famous people such as generals and the political leaders of the countries involved in the war. 
Karsh continued to photography mainly famous people throughout his career, although he did occasionally take pictures of the common man. When asked why he mainly shot celebrities, he replied that, “I am working with the world’s most remarkable cross-section of people. I do believe it’s the minority who make the world go around, not the majority.” Karsh retired in 1992 and died on June 13, 2002. 

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