Photographer David Yarrow has travelled the world capturing endangered wildlife in breath-taking moments of beauty. As his latest book launches worldwide, he speaks about his signature shots
I GOT ONE, A BEAR WALKS INTO A BAR…, 2017
The latest in Yarrow’s Storytelling series, the opening photograph features a live, habituated grizzly bear holding court at The Pioneer Inn in Virginia City, Montana, USA. Summing up the Wild West in a single image was anything but easy: local actors worked all day with the bear and bar staff, turning the fearsome giant into one of the regulars.
One of Yarrow’s most iconic images, the Great White shark snapping at the Cape fur seal arrests the natural world at a point of raw power and adrenaline-pumping excitement. Taken in the waters of False Bay, near Cape Town, the photographer spent 28 hours over nine winter mornings waiting for the predator to surface nearby. “Patience is the most necessary prerequisite,” he says of his profession.
THE LONG MARCH, 2010
Antarctica is the most difficult continent to visit, and by far the most difficult to photograph as well: “its enormity and its power are hard to convey in one still image,” says Yarrow. For this shot, one of the simplest in his oeuvre, he eschewed the wide angle that gives a sense of place to focus on the majesty and the struggle in the Emperor penguins’ short, determined steps.
HEAVEN CAN WAIT, 2014
Sometimes a photo that breaks the rules is the one that captures the moment most piquantly. This shot from Amboseli, Kenya catches the giraffe from behind as it gallops into the setting sun. Taken from Yarrow’s outstretched hand as he was harnessed to the jeep, leaning toward the ground as it sped along at 30mph, it was, as Yarrow puts it, “a low-percentage shot”.
THE PUZZLE, 2013
More skittish than horses and much less human-friendly, zebras pose a special challenge to photographers. The Grevy’s Zebra, spotted here in Lewa, Kenya, is one of the more beautiful species, and the shot required exceptional patience from Yarrow, who frames the single face amid a small pack, creating a composition both dramatic and intimate.
GRUMPY MONKEY, 2013
The depth of the Snow monkey’s misery in Japan’s Jigokudani National Park is so consonant with our own seasonal sorrows that this photo can’t help but strike a nerve. Plunged in cold water and shrouded in heavy, misty cloud, the primate has become one of Yarrow’s most popular subjects.
THE DEPARTED, 2015
Using a remote control camera with the light prejudged, Yarrow snapped the picture of one of Tanzania’s last 90 remaining Black rhino in the late afternoon at Mkomazi Game Reserve. Achieving a one-of-a-kind low-angle shot with the help of local legend Tony Fitzjohn, the image is named after the rhinos that have fallen victim to poachers over the last decades.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland in the mid-1960s, Yarrow is an unlikely wildlife photographer. After studies at Edinburgh University, he worked in finance in London and New York, becoming director of equities at Natwest Securities in 1993 and founding London-based hedge fund Clareville Capital in 1996. But the pull of the wild proved too much for Yarrow, who has retained his penchant for exceptional hard work and enthusiastic preparation. Each shoot involves hundreds of hours of preparation and logistical arrangements, all coordinated to take best advantage of the weather, behaviour patterns and equipment. Once on the ground, “it is about getting yourself in a position to use the camera,” he says. Yarrow prefers to use a low-angle lens and get himself as close as possible to the animals in their natural habitat: “For the pictures to transcend there has to be something more and that normally involves spontaneity and a suggestion of capturing a moment not contriving a moment.” Yarrow’s latest book, Wild Encounters, features an introduction by the Duke of Cambridge, and all profits go to the Tusk Trust, a conservation organisation. “We are tenants on this planet and bad ones,” he says. “I feel a responsibility to raise awareness of this and bring the issues of conservation into homes that have never been to Africa or the Arctic. If sales of my work help to give money back to Africa, I feel I have added another layer to what I do.”
NetJets Magazine, 2017