Hello, Archival Pigment Print, 2015, ed. 12, 132 x 191 cm
On one unforgettable August evening in the North Slope of Alaska, I was offered a spectacularly close encounter with a group of polar bears. In the modest village of Kaktovik, I worked with two locals who had a boat license to trawl along the land slip. They knew the topography of the area intimately and I had briefed them on my style which favoured height alignment and close proximity. However, they also work within strict safety laws and are absolutely forbidden to approach or harass the bears. They can stay still and allow the bears to approach them, so long as they are protected by the hull of their little fishing boat I trusted my Inuit guide - he had a weathered and wise countenance and spoke with such familiarity on each bear we saw from our little boat. After two hours of trawling the land strip one evening, the big moment arrived and on reflection I did the very best I could do given the special scene that unfolded in front of me. This image was run in the British press a few days after my encounter on Barter Island. It is something of a platitude to say that the bigger an image is printed, the greater the detail, but on this occasion it is very pertinent for two reasons. Firstly, a polar bear is a huge animal. If possible, any portrait should reflect this. Secondly, the bear is pin sharp around its eyes. I think that I must have been as close to a polar bear as is possible in the wild and lived to tell the tale. I was also using Nikon’s flagship 58m lens, which captures every hair at the assigned focal point. When the first large print of the image came off the drum in LA, one of the team turned to me and said, ‘David, look at the eyes – you are in them!’. He was right; I had inadvertently taken a selfie through the eyes of a polar bear.
David Yarrow was born in Scotland and is currently based in London. David Yarrow is known for travelling the world’s remotest regions to capture compelling images of nature as we‘ve never seen it before, and is redefining wildlife photography in the process.
His monochrome photographs are bursting with life, vitality and movement, yet the majority of Yarrow’s subject matter, from rampaging bull elephants in Kenya to Inuit hunters and Bornean orangutans, is living on the brink of extinction. This is nature at its most majestic – and its most fragile.
Yarrow’s unorthodox camera angles and unique shooting methods transport the viewer right into the heart of the action; with split-second timing, he crystallises a single instant of drama into an image so immersive that it cannot be viewed in just a few moments. These are photographs to linger over.