That’s the word that comes to mind when first looking through Scottish wildlife and fine-art photographer David Yarrow’s new book, “Storytelling,” which features on its cover a train from the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and a forward by supermodel Cindy Crawford.
Yarrow will be in town next week to sign copies of “Storytelling” at Sorrel Sky Gallery and for on-location shooting.
The book features more than 130 photos he’s taken since 2019, spanning the globe from Durango to Monument Valley to Nantucket to Sub-Saharan Africa. And according to his website, “all the profits from the copies purchased through David Yarrow Photography Ltd. will be donated to the UW Health Kids Cancer Care Charity. David and Cindy’s on-going collaboration since 2019 has raised over $3 million for the UW Health Kids Cancer Care Charity.”
We had a chance to chat with the photographer via email.
Q: The book’s a beast in both size and weight! (Weighing in at about 10 pounds, according to this reporter’s bathroom scale.) Is that intentional? Why?
A: We are used to printing photographs on a much larger scale, but I suppose this is the best way for my work to be seen outside of a gallery. It certainly showcases it better than a mobile or computer screen. A book of this size allows better attention to the details in each image that you would miss by just scrolling through our social media posts. During my creative process whilst shooting, I am directing the scenes knowing that the resulting photograph will be seen in large formats and so we make sure to include small details all over the frame. I also want the book to look good on people’s coffee tables and bookcases, and I think Rizzoli chose the optimal size.
Q: How do photo shoots work? It seems like a huge (and expensive) undertaking.
A: It differs based on how many people are involved. Sometimes we can have a small crew and cast, with no more than 10 people involved. Although, for our first shoot of 2023, we had 250 extras on set at a film ranch in Paradise Valley, Montana. The coordination effort and finances required to have that many people on set are not small, and we have used our experience gained from shoots over the last few years to feel confident enough to take on a project of that size. Expensive projects definitely raise the pressure, but I like the pressure.”
WHAT: David Yarrow One-Man Show and Book-Signing
WHEN: 5-7 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 16)
WHERE: Sorrel Sky Gallery, 828 Main Ave.
MORE INFORMATION: Visit sorrelsky.com.
Q: What’s your favorite shoot in the book?
A: It’s hard to single one out, a definite highlight was when we worked with the steam trains in Durango in the winter of 2021 – the image on the front cover was taken on that shoot and so it is one that is close to my heart. That photograph, “The Iron Horse,” is one of the most treasured in my career and an easy choice for the front cover of the book. As I’m sure your readers know, the famous Durango to Silverton steam train runs through the most dramatic of landscapes and has remained largely the same as when the railroad opened in 1882, retaining the sense of Wild West period drama I look for.”
Q: Your photos capture a feeling of empowerment in your subjects – is that something that’s in the front of your mind when you’re telling these stories?
A: My default position is always to empower and glorify the subject – I am, at heart, a romanticist.
Q: Have you ever had a project go horrifically wrong?
A: There’s a reason Brad Pitt’s production company is called Plan B – things go wrong, and we have learnt to adapt when conditions change. However, there was a trip in December 2021 that we faced problem after problem with, and as much as we tried to adapt, we couldn’t solve them. We had planned to go to Antarctica to photograph Emperor Penguins before attending Art Miami, the most important event of our year. This was our first time flying to Antarctica instead as opposed to taking a boat from South America. After waiting in South Africa due to multiple flight delays caused by weather conditions, we finally got clearance for take-off. Minutes after landing in Antarctica, we received news that most of Europe and the U.S. would close their borders to travelers from South Africa due to the Covid-19 Omicron variant outbreak. We had to return to South Africa to reach Miami before the U.S. closed the travel corridor, but it proved impossible with the chaos of the situation. Our stay in Antarctica lasted only 48 minutes, surely a record for the shortest ever visit. Unfortunately, in the end we never even made it to Miami before the deadline due to the ever-increasing restrictions placed on travel. That was certainly a week we’d rather forget.
Q: What advice do you have for people taking casual photos? (What do the photos you take on your phone look like?)
A: Taking a strong image has less to do with the camera as it does to have good compositional sense, good lighting and pin-sharp focus.