David Yarrow Photography Newsletter Edition 3, March 2017

David Yarrow Photography Newsletter Edition 3, March 2017

Letter From Yellowstone

31st March 2017

It is a debate that will never be won, but those who contend that America is the most visually spoilt country in the world have a fairly compelling opening argument. The romantic enormity of the South West, the wilds of Alaska, “The Lost World” swamps of Louisiana and the architectural splendour of Manhattan and Chicago – the list is endless. There is a breadth that other stunningly scenic, but smaller countries, such as Iceland, Namibia, New Zealand and Chile cannot match.

The relationship between the history of photography and awareness of America’s majesty is circular and tight. The South West’s significance in shaping photography as an art form is matched only by photography’s significance in defining the region’s identity.

100 years ago, Edward Curtis gave us magnificent and historical imagery of Native American tribes, canyons and deserts. Many years later, John Ford and Ansel Adams built on that foundation in film and stills respectively. In the American West there is a rich legacy of generational talent in landscape filming. To take a camera into these lands is to walk in the shadows of giants.

America has now become over photographed and nowhere more so than its two most celebrated national parks – Yosemite and Yellowstone. There is little detail that has not been captured and it takes extraordinary light conditions or smart contemporary art photographers such as Stephen Wilkes to give us fresh detail.

Despite this, Yellowstone has always had a pull on me. The name itself elicits imagery of an untamed frontier. The wildlife in this, the oldest of American National Parks, is rich and well documented – bears, wolves, big cats and bison. National Geographic’s dedicated and talented photographers have shown great patience over the years, as have celebrated local photographers such as Tom Mangelsen and Tom Murphy.

I am not a National Geographic photographer – my primary focus is not to capture animal behaviour, nor do I have an editorial demand to return with a portfolio of images. Rather, I am looking to create artistic images that at their heart have an intimacy, soul and finite detail. This is both a relief and a challenge and it does mean I often return empty handed. Returning from overseas assignments with nothing of note is a corollary of the belief that powerful images are rare. Like salmon fishing in Scotland – to return empty handed is part of the game.

“I am looking to create artistic images that at their heart have an intimacy, soul and finite detail.”

Yellowstone in the summer has the full portfolio of animals – the bears are out of hibernation and with this comes a level of traffic that impinges on the serenity of the park. It is fairly common for cars to back up for a mile. I like to work on my own and when the snow melts in Yellowstone, this is almost impossible.

Snow is the critical moisture to the Yellowstone ecosystem and in my mind, it defines and characterises the park. So this February, I ventured into Yellowstone in the company of Tom Murphy – who had agreed to work with me on this project. He brought with him a rich understanding of every region of this vast park and in particular the behavioural patterns of bison in the cold.

My research led me to believe that it was vital for it to be cold and for there to have been recent snowfall. Sadly, Yellowstone is not as cold as it used to be – indeed in two of the last three Februarys, most of the snow at lower levels had melted. But this year was different and it was snowing hard on our drive (below) to the frontier village of West Yellowstone. Anyone familiar with my driving prowess, or lack of, would not have wanted to be in the passenger seat. It was not cold, far from it, but it was just about cold enough. We simply had to give the project time and the weather forecast, which tends to be quite accurate, augured well.

As it was, this trip yielded one spectacular image which I hope will stand the test of time. But I will leave others to decide.

New Releases

American Idol

Large – Edition of 12, Framed size – 71” x 70” (180 cm x 182 cm)
Standard – Edition of 12, Framed size – 52.5” x 52” (133 cm x 132 cm)This powerful image of a large bull bison was captured near Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. It is as good as I can do and probably my most impactful animal portrait for some time. The bison is an emblematic North American animal that roamed the continent millions of years before man. When fully grown, it is a massive beast that deserves our respect and recognition.


The Beast

Large – Edition of 12, Framed size – 71″ x 81″ (180cm x 206cm)
Standard – Edition of 12, Framed size – 52″ x 59″ (132cm x 150cm)
When I encountered this massive bull it was with my camera in hand, not a remote control unit. I was very conscious of the distance between us – it would have been both illegal and foolish for me to move any closer, but there was always the chance that the bison would take this issue out of my hands. I was knee deep in snow and I would not have fancied my chances of scrambling backwards.



Large – Edition of 12, Framed size – 71″ x 90″ (180cm x 229cm)
Standard – Edition of 12, Framed size – 52″ x 59″ (132cm x 150cm)Yellowstone is earth’s largest active geyser field and I was most mindful of this when trying to find a location that encapsulated the park’s identity and character. I recognised that I also needed depth – the riddle here was that this required good light and if the trees were also to be full of snow, I was asking for a demanding climatic combination.



Like most of us, I have watched a few TED (technology, entertainment and design) talks over the last few years and was honoured to be asked to give my 18 minute offering at the first TEDx event at Eton school in the UK. The school will always attract a full range of comments and my experience there on that day gave me the opportunity to make my own mind up.



The Photo Fair at the NEC in the third weekend of March is the biggest event of its kind in Europe and Nikon has the most prominent position in the vast exhibition hall. I was pleased to see my images so beautifully represented. Nikon and their team in London are outstanding counterparties and I am proud to be one of the brand’s ambassadors. I would like to thank Sara Marshall, Rob MacNeice, Neil Brennan and especially Amy Walsh for all their kind support over that particular weekend.


Tusk Wildlife Gala

I am pleased that my relationship with TUSK – the UK’s most acclaimed conservation NGO – is now in its 4th year. My role as their affiliated photographer affords me many advantages in the field and I am delighted that I can give back partly by my imagery raising awareness of the beauty of African wildlife, but more substantively by charity sales of my prints at TUSK events. In the last two years, the most important of these has been the Gala dinner in New York in early April. This year we are hoping that bids for three of my more coveted images will reach new highs.

I would like to thank Charlie Mayhew – the Founder of TUSK and Ellen O’Connell, their American CEO, for their unwavering support for all that I do. There is much more that we can do together and I would urge everyone to remember that we have a responsibility to end our tenancy of the planet with a better legacy than the one that currently would be ascribed to us.

My understanding is that there are a limited number of tickets still left for April 6th.


Dallas Art Week – April 7, 2017

Last April, we showed at Dallas Art Week for the first time and to be fair it was slightly intimidating – we knew virtually no one. But a year on, 6 visits on and through the help of many new friends in Texas, we have a strong following that is growing in this buoyant city. JD Miller and his partner Lea Fisher are outstanding artists and I am so pleased that we will be showing this year at their magnificent gallery – Samuel Lynn – in the design district. Texas does nothing by halves and I look forward to a fun weekend.


Princeton University – 12 April, 2017 

I am excited to be speaking at Princeton University in April. Founded in 1746, Princeton is one of the 9 colonial colleges established before the American Revolution. No Ivy league college arguably has a more formidable alumni body and therefore it will be with some degree of trepidation that I take to the floor on April 12th. 


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