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David Yarrow Recreates the American West with a Twist
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Photographer David Yarrow encouraged the parents in the audience to cultivate passion in their children. “If they’re passionate about something, so many parts of life fall in place.”
   
Friday, August 5, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

The bison charging at David Yarrow’s camera looked close enough that you could almost smell his sweat glands.

Snap! Yarrow took the picture in Yellowstone seconds before it looked like he might have been run over. And, when it was over, there were no photographers injured in the shooting of the photograph, thanks to a remote control that allowed him to shoot from a distance.

“It’s the journey that matters,” Yarrow told a room full of admirers at Broschofsky Galleries.

 
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David Yarrow has a good sense of humor about some of the wildlife he has shot.
 

Yarrow recently entertained a crowd at the Ketchum gallery, telling the stories behind his black and white shots.

“The gallery is celebrating 35 years this year. David found his way into the gallery 18 months ago. And we’re glad he did. I’ve never had a harder time picking and choosing from a portfolio to decide which images to feature,” Rudi Broschofsky told the audience.

Indeed, Rudi Broschofsky and his parents have been amazed at Yarrow’s following since the gallery began to carry his works at the height of the pandemic, said Minette Broschofsky. Some of Yarrow’s work will be on display at the gallery, 360 East Ave., during tonight’s Gallery Walk from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

Yarrow grew up in Scotland but was lured to America by the romance of the Wild West.

 
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David Yarrow told of spending 27 hours in the ocean to get a big fish picture that cost him $18,000 to get and that sold for only $15,000.
 

“The breadth of beauty in America is outstanding,” he said. “And I can’t think of anything more Americana than the cowboy.”

While much of the Wild West of photographer Edward Curtis’s day is gone, Yarrow has been able to replicate it by planning out his photographs.

“Steven Spielberg said, ‘Good ideas start with bad ideas. That’s why it takes so long,’ ” he noted.

Yarrow stationed horsemen, bandanas tied tight around their faces, on a precarious section of track on the narrow-gauge Durango-to-Silverton line as he staged a holdup on a steam locomotive. He carefully orchestrated a photograph of a woman tied to the railroad tracks in Marfa, Texas.

 
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Jill and Jason Williams are big fans of Yarrow’s work, were among numerous people who donned cowboy garb to attend the presentation.
 

“I love train tracks because they lead the eye and take you on a journey,” he said.

He climbed a 20-foot ladder to shoot a thundering herd of10,000 Texas longhorn cattle, holding his breath that they wouldn’t knock him over as they came within yards of the ladder. The dust was just as precarious, as it could have clogged his camera, he said—fortunately, it was drifting the other way into the sun that backlit the photograph.

Yarrow told of shooting photos of lions in Anguilla with the help of Kevin Richardson, aka “The Lion Whisperer.” The lions--stunning in Yarrow’s photographs--were usually photographed while on morning walks with Richardson, while Yarrow shot from a cage.

Noting Sun Valley’s ties to Ernest Hemingway, Yarrow showed his photograph paying homage to “The Old Man and the Sea.”

He keyed on a passage from Hemingway’s last novel as it described an aging fisherman who had gone 84 days without catching a fish: “He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach.”

He found a lean Caribbean man with long dreadlocks for his Santiago, saying “he was gold as long as you caught him at 6:30 in the morning before his first big joint of the day.” And he added shots of Richardson’s lions being walked on the beach to the scene.

The lions symbolized Santiago’s lost youth and his pride, a group of lions being a “pride.” It also spoke to his affinity with nature, Yarrow said.

Yarrow employed a similar method as he constructed a photograph of a lion walking down a catwalk with fully-dressed Zulus with spears in their hands.

Yarrow has created a number of photographs of cowboys in saloons, with a wolf as the focal point. Among them a photograph he constructed of a female gunslinger in a gunfight outside the saloon at the old Marlboro Ranch in Montana’s Crazy Mountains.

The wolve are in fact domesticated Tamaskan dogs bred to look like wolves.

“I used a woman gunslinger just to have fun,” Yarrow said. “Western scenes have been too male dominated. I want to tell stories and not be too earnest.”

Yarrow told the audience that he takes “so many” bad pictures but nobody ever sees those. He pooh-poohed photographers who claim they can take 200 good photographs a year.

“Nonsense,” he said. “I try to take four good pictures this year. It’s July—I’ve taken two good pictures so far this year.”

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