Svalbard, Norway 2017
What adjectives best describe an adult male polar bear? This question is often the start of a cognitive process that bends back and prompts me in my deliberations as to how to take an animal’s portrait in a way that does it justice. There is process in the preconception of ideas because ideally, I want to convey the most considered of these adjectives in my photography. I am sensitive to the need to deliver with a portrait, as I am all too aware that wildlife photography can be dull, when at best it must be creative and evocative.
Polar bears are certainly big and dangerous. But they are more than that – they sit at the top of the food chain at the top of the world. Inevitably, imagery of polar bears is often used to endorse and emphasise the cold but great photographs of this alpha mammal should also surely convey majesty and sovereignty. Of all the predators on our planet – including the lion – it is the polar bear that I find the most regal. That was the prompt in my preconception – I needed to home in on the majesty of the polar bear.
To do this well requires a special image – there is no room for anything other than intimacy and crystal sharp focus against a perfect backdrop. Svalbard is no “studio” – it is the wild and this goes some way to explaining why this image was preceded by five years of failure. The bear’s distinctive Roman nose is best captured with the mammal perpendicular to the camera with his head raised.
I wanted an image that celebrates the life of the Emperor of the North – there is no appetite on my part to deliver another hackneyed image documenting global warming. The polar bear should never be regarded as ordinary or familiar – because it is neither. That gorgeous summer’s day, I shot almost directly into the sun and the glittering sea is apposite – this is a celebration of the glory of planet earth and the polar bear’s position at its summit. He is the Emperor of the North and the star of this image. I was just a bystander with a decent camera.
David Yarrow has built an unrivalled reputation for capturing the beauty of the planet’s remote landscapes, cultures and endangered animals. Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1966, he is now one of the world’s leading fine art photographers. At the Sotheby’s photography auction in London, May 2017, David’s iconic picture –Mankind –was sold for £60,000 –the highest price of the 100 lots on auction. He is represented by some of the world’s leading galleries and in America David has shown at the renowned Perot Museum in Dallas and his work is permanently on show at the new Museum of Natural History in Missouri. David’s images are among some of the most sought-after pieces of work within the industry. David has a global book deal with Rizzoli publishing house inNew York and produced a flagship book named ‘Wild Encounters’ featuring work from seven continents, capturing some of the earth’s most endangered species. He is honored that HRH the Duke of Cambridge wrote the foreword to the book which was released in October 2016 and all author royalties from the book will go to Tusk Trust. Amazon awarded it “The Best Art and Photography book of 2016”. Alongside Rizzoli, David launched the book in a series of events across the world in the last quarter of 2016, including exhibitions at Fotografiska in Stockholm, Leonhard’s Gallery in Antwerp, Holden Luntz in Palm Beach and at London’s Somerset House. In April 2017 at the annual Tusk Gala in NYC, David’s images raised $175,000 at auction, including two lots which sold for $50,000 each, very much cementing his status as one of the most coveted artists in his field.Read More