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Wise Guys

David Yarrow

Wise Guys

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WISE GUYS
South Georgia - 2018

I took this image early on a trip to South Georgia, and I keep referring back to it because it has character and the lead players are pin sharp. Penguins head-on offer a different perspective, and a ground position adds stature to the subject. There wa... show more
WISE GUYS
South Georgia - 2018

I took this image early on a trip to South Georgia, and I keep referring back to it because it has character and the lead players are pin sharp. Penguins head-on offer a different perspective, and a ground position adds stature to the subject. There was no depth of field available that day, and the vast majority of the images were cluttered and messy—except, thankfully, this one.

The penguins look like a cohesive unit, and there is a touch of menace to their swagger. They are clearly the wise guys of the beach. The penguin on the right may have watched the odd Joe Pesci movie: “You think I’m funny?” I have always had a fascination with mobster films such as Goodfellas, The Untouchables, The Road to Perdition, and The Departed, and perhaps at a subconscious level this draws me to American cities such as Chicago. South Georgia is a long way from the South Side of Chicago, but this photograph brings them closer in my visual imagination.

There is a slight paradox with penguins in that while they live at the bottom of the world, they are a little overphotographed. Furthermore, they are not alpha animals, and to the human eye they lack individuality. The search is always to find content that is authentic and fresh, which is a challenge. Poor weather can help or, as in this case, some humor. A good test of any photographer’s commitment in South Georgia is whether they return to the boat smelling of penguin poop. No assistant of mine will ever come back to the base wearing clean clothes and smelling of Tom Ford.
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