Renowned for his impactful, close encounter photography of wildlife and the environment, David Yarrow’s work has demonstrated the ability to capture wild animals in their natural habitat to create images full of passion, drama, and empathy. David Yarrow is distinguished for his resilience in the field. Whether his images require setting up camp in the wilderness of Alaska or being locked in a cage surrounded by Siberian Tigers, it is Yarrow’s determined focus and commitment to excellence that allows each of his pictures to have a life and story of their own. Indeed, Yarrow’s final images take patience and technical skill; he researches the logistics of his photography thoroughly before embarking on an adventure and beginning the physical process of locating and executing the perfect shot.
“I fully understand that for photography to be evocative, the emotional intelligence of the practitioner must be fully engaged, and for the subject matter to be fresh, logistical intelligence must also be employed. Striking images tend not to happen by accident; they tend to be the result of prep work and research.”
David Yarrow, savvy and unfaltering, shoots White Horses 18 hours after touching down in Iceland. The work begins soon after Yarrow lands and he has to manage multiple variables to achieve an advantageous moment; being in position for optimal background conditions and having the animal subject in place. Yarrow comments that he has not been lucky in the country before but that it is better to be bold at the risk of failing then to not attempt at all. The image is finally made after considering the many components Yarrow brings forward with his team.
“There are many components to this image that coalesce and the backdrop of these unruly and dramatic rock pinnacles was an immediate choice. They are a well-known formation by the coastal village of Vik, which is about three hours’ drive east from the capital. The village is well known to filmmakers because of its black beaches and otherworldly rock formations. I have stayed nights in Vik in the past and yearned for conditions like these in which to shoot…”
Yarrow established his use of scenery as inherently expressionistic. Strong winds raise waves that exemplify the magnitude of the landscape, towering rock formations add a mystical quality to what appears as an enchanted land, while the black sands of the beach add contrast to the dramatic and ominous atmosphere. The horse’s wet coat enhances its striking values, appearing wild and indomitable. The location used in the photograph has also worked as a backdrop for the HBO dark fantasy drama, Game of Thrones.
Like much of Yarrow’s work, the picture is able to place its subject, the wild horse, within an evocative context, we fully sense the beauty and power of the natural world. Like much of Yarrow’s photography, this image stresses an appreciation for the natural environment. Yarrow has been a consistent supporter of varying conservation efforts and is currently the affiliated photographer for the Tusk Trust, a conservation charity that aims to advance innovation to protect Africa’s wildlife and natural habitats.
The influence of Edward Curtis on David Yarrow is evident here, which the photographer properly acknowledges. Curtis’s Canyon de Chelly, captures the scale and sense of place of the Arizona desert, creating a salient image of the final frontier. Yarrow uses this influence to capture the “enormity and rawness” of the Icelandic shore in White Horses. In Yarrow’s quest for the perfect shot; balancing scenery, subject, and influence, the photographer creates an image that captures the beauty of nature’s raw freedom. Yarrow’s empathy towards the natural world is also evident in his aesthetic. The lone horse and dynamic scenery create a composition reminiscent of the Romanticist Painting Wanderer about the Sea Fog by Caspar David Friedrich, that can perhaps remind us to pause and marvel at the majesty and significance of nature and our relationship to it.