"Within every man and woman a secret is hidden ... it is my task to reveal it if I can."

- Yousuf Karsh


"Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) is one of the world's greatest portrait photographers; no one else has photographed so many men and women of international renown. To be 'Karshed' is a mark of accomplishment."

Glenbow Museum

*** UPDATED as of September 20, 2011 ***

The Karsh Portrait Project

CLICK HERE: Check out this new link to see where our project has gone next!

One of the most exciting projects we have done in our inquiry this year is now part of our school-wide photography celebration gallery opening on April 28, 2011!

This project really came about through serendipity and involved a wistful desire to go to the Glenbow Museum and a chance look at the upcoming shows to discover that a Yousuf Karsh exhibition was coming to Calgary. After an innocent email asking for permission to use Karsh portraits as inspirations, we had our final photography assignment! All of the work we had been doing so far (the Rembrance Day Project, Comic Life, The Giver Project, and Photobooth) have all been leading us to this moment.

The Project

The students each recreated a portrait by legendary Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh. The students were able to choose from over 60 different portraits. The students took all the photographs themselves, correcting camera settings, lighting, pose, etc. They did the work!

The project consisted of the students doing research about the life and times of their chosen person and creating a digital 'photo story' with the first picture being the Karsh portrait and the last picture being their recreation of the Karsh portrait. In between those two photos they will have images of their person's life as well as what was happening in the world at that time. The students spoke about the life and times of their chosen person in voice over format.

The goals of this project were that the students would be able to deepen their appreciation for how people have an impact on history and how the times a person lives in affect them as well. It affords a perspective on time and place in history. Some of these people have had a massive impact on the times to come.

BREAKING NEWS - Director of Karsh Estate Visits Glendale!

Mr. Jerry Fielder came to Calgary originally to do an interview style talk at the Glenbow Museum to commemorate the Karsh: Regarding Heroes exhibition that was coming to a close. Ms. Grimm had asked if he could possibly come by our school to speak with the students. Incredibly and with great generousity, Mr. Fielder changed his travel plans and made that dream a reality! On June 15, 2011, Mr. Fielder along with Heather John (Manager of Visitor Experience of the Glenbow), Colleen Sharpe (Glenbow Art Curator), and Anna Lake (Adult Education Coordinator of the Glenbow) all came to visit with the students to share their thoughts of the work that they have created.

Ms. Grimm, Ms. Hardacre and Mr. Vaast all got the chance to see Mr. Fielder at the Glenbow on June 14 during his talk. We got the opportunity to visit with him and have him share his feelings of the work and how excited he was about it. As he said, all of Calgary is talking about Karsh right now and all of Karsh is talking about the Glendale inquiry project! What a great thing to say! To say he was pleased with our work would be an understatement.

CLICK HERE: Check out this new link to see where our project has gone next!

As for us, we are so impressed with the students' work and where they took it. We certainly never considered the impact that our project would have on the world.


  • Karsh Portraits
  • Research Time
  • Portrait Studio
  • Movie Maker
  • Exhibit Opening
  • Glenbow
  • Finished Products

Of the thousands of portraits Yousuf Karsh took over his illustrious career, we chose 64 for the students to select from. It was their choice after looking over all the options and doing preliminary research whose portrait they wished to recreate and research.

How many portraits do you recognize? Click the portrait for a larger version.


Students spent hours researching the subject of their Karsh portrait. A lot of that preliminary research was done at home but some of it was done at school as well. During this time, the students were tasked with creating a readable script that they would record as a voice over for their Movie Maker photostory project.

The students worked with some teacher guidance and assistance to recreate their portrait in the Room 8 Studio! With a choice of backgrounds and locations throughout the school, students took creative control helping each other get the perfect portrait - often looking at Karsh's original while shooting to get the right angle or lighting effect. The students have become experts at portraiture!

Yes, even Mr. Vaast got into the spirit of things. And like any studio, sometimes accidents happen - had to clean up an exploded light bulb - oops!

Once the portraits were completed and all the research was done, students worked on Movie Maker to create their photostory for their subject. Time was spent practicing their script and recording their voice over narration and then finally assembling the movie project before exporting it as a finished product. Thank you for all the parent help we had - we could not have finished this without you!


On April 28, 2011, Glendale hosted a school-wide photography celebration showcasing all of the rich photography work done with our artist-in-residence Linda Craddock. We would like to thank the Alberta Foundation for the Arts for supporting us for this endeavor as well as the Glendale Parents! Thank you for coming to celebrate our exhibit opening with us!


On April 29, 2011, the day after our exhibit opening at school, we took a field trip to the Glenbow Museum to see the Karsh exhibit "Regarding Heroes" there. We were amazed by the connections Yousuf Karsh had with Calgary and how many different portraits there were. We had only seen just a few! There were dozens more than we had seen before. It was amazing to see them in a professional gallery and that made us even more proud of the hard work we did to get our projects done!


The teachers (Ms. Grimm, Ms. Hardacre and Mr. Vaast) wanted you to know a little more about Yousuf Karsh. Check out this short video about the life and times of Yousuf Karsh. As well, check out the video made of the "Regarding Heroes" exhibition where it started in Chicago.