By Niki Barrie
by David Yarrow
(Rizzoli, November 2016)
Black and white and read all over — From the front cover photo of an approaching lioness in an eye-lock with the camera, to the back cover of the photographer on the ground aiming his camera at a herd of elephants, the images in David Yarrow’s latest book, Wild Encounters, astonish. I love black-and-white photography, and Yarrow’s are elegant yet gritty, powerful, soulful and true. They are up-close, and often eye-to eye-with an animal. All but a few are black and white. He explains:
“I am often asked why I tend to work in black and white rather than color. There are two reasons, both of which are so overwhelmingly powerful that I will rarely deviate from this personally prescribed path.
The first is that we live our lives in color, so some abstraction from reality is healthy. Monochrome prints represent perception rather than reality and this allows for interpretation. The rather limited color range of East Africa also suits black-and-white representation—far better a monochromatic tonal range than seven shades of brown. Andy Warhol once said, ‘Black is my favorite color and white is my favorite color.’ Who am I to disagree?
The second reason is that black-and-white prints, whether in a book such as this or framed on a wall, offer a sense of timelessness. The overwhelming majority of the images in this book could have been taken 100 years ago, and their black-and-white reproduction serves to subliminally reinforce that dynamic. Even the images of communities, or those that tell stories that can be dated, seem more compelling when the color is removed.
A handful of pictures have been printed in color within this book simply because on these few occasions the colors themselves were integral to the power of the photograph—for instance, the cold light blue sky of Siberia or the almost mythological coloring in the coat of an Icelandic pony.”
In this book, Yarrow documents his travels from pole to pole, continent to continent. He starts in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, 80.5 degrees North, and ends with the penguins of Antarctica, 64.4 degrees South. In between: Alaska, Montana, India, Kenya, Namibia, and more. Yarrow presents some wonderful surprises and many memorable images.
It would be hard to ignore Yarrow’s text at the beginning of each chapter, because—I would wager—you will want to know more about the stories behind the images and the locations.
For instance, in a ghost town in the mountains near Bozeman, Montana, Yarrow staged an image of a wolf walking on the bar in a Wild West inn. Yarrow’s direction to the models (patrons, really) was to “behave as though a wolf in a bar was the most normal occurrence in this part of the world.” So, they pretty much turned their heads and ignored the wolf. The result is dramatic and has a touch of humor.
Another chapter shows images of a young woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo who agreed to work with a rehabilitated cheetah in the Namib Desert. Yarrow says, “…at the end of 72 hours, they [cheetah and woman] had formed a female bond that is implicit in these shots.”
If I had to name one thing that distinguishes Yarrow’s wildlife photos, I’d say the eye-level or below-eye-level contact, which creates an intimacy between the animal and the viewer. You become part of the picture. Yarrow is not foolhardy. On the extreme close-ups he uses a remote-controlled camera to keep out of harm’s way. And to ensure the wildlife is attracted to his setup, he sometimes covers the camera casing with a variety of scents that he’s researched and identified as the most enticing ones for a given animal. The wildlife is engaged and it follows that the viewer would be too. “Only with intimacy can every facial detail be captured and personalities recorded with soul and honesty,” says Yarrow. You cannot help but feel the chill of the raindrops on the fur of a snow monkey or search the reflections in the eyes of a polar bear when they are standing right in front of you.
Certainly, Wild Encounters is more than up-close wildlife photography, even though that is what stands out. Yarrow also included wildlife in its habitat—sometimes a single animal, like the Scottish red deer, looking so very small within its vast surroundings, and other times a tower of giraffes or parade of elephants or colony of penguins artistically spaced within their environments. Inuit, Montana cowboys, the Himba, Suri and Dinka tribesmen and landscapes are also included in this work. No matter the subject, however, Yarrow has captured what is wild and free and pulled us in for an unforgettable view.
David Yarrow is a London-based photographer and author who was born in Scotland. He was a stockbroker for eight years after graduating from Edinburgh. During that time, he followed his interest in photography as well, beginning with sports, dabbling in beauty and pursuing landscapes before his passion led him to the natural world. He doesn’t consider himself to be solely a wildlife photographer.
Proceeds from the sale of this book benefit Tusk, a wildlife conservation organization that has been working with local partners for more than 25 years to protect wildlife while mitigating poverty and providing economic and education opportunities throughout Africa.
© Wild Encounters by David Yarrow (Rizzoli New York, 2016). All images © David Yarrow. No images may be used without written consent from the publisher.
IF I LIVE TO BE 100: THE WISDOM OF CENTENARIANS
by Paul Mobley (author/photographer), Allison Milionis (author) and Norman Lear (Foreword)
(Welcome Books, September 2016)
“I photographed a lot of important people in my life, but probably none as important as someone who is 116 years old. I’m very grateful for being able to do that. ” — Paul Mobley
The 116-year-old who photographic portraitist Paul Mobley refers to in that quote is Jeralean Talley from Inkster, Michigan, born on May 23, 1899. Jeralean always liked the outdoors, and she still goes fishing once or twice a year. She’s not sure why she has lived to be 116. She enjoys life and while not in a hurry to go, she leaves it up to God. “I’ll be here as long as he lets me be here,” she says.
If I Live to Be 100 features one centenarian from each of the fifty United States. Each chapter leads with a flawless black-and-white portrait. To obtain the images, Mobley, his wife Suzanne, and their dog Jessie, went state by state to meet the subjects and ask them “What is the key to your long life?”
None of the seniors appear to be camera-shy. They have beautiful lines and wrinkles, age spots, and bent, arthritic fingers, which they wear with confidence. Just as David Yarrow in Wild Encounters (above review) brings out the personalities of wildlife and engages the viewer, Mobley does the same with his centenarians.
Imagine: These folks have lived through two world wars, space travel, and the digital revolution; they have witnessed the invention of the telephone, the personal computer, the pop-up toaster, zoom lenses, the automobile, and the tea bag. The text shares stories of how they met their spouses, how they made their living, and what they consider to be fun.
For example, Irving Olson was born on November 26, 1913. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. Irving and his brothers turned a radio repair business, run from their parents’ basement, into a successful radio repair and parts retail chain of 100 stores nationwide and a mail-order business that served practically every town in the United States. Pretty good considering Irving flunked kindergarten and dropped out of college. Irving retired at fifty when he and his brothers sold the business to Teledyne Industries. Then, he turned his attention to photography. Though he considers himself an amateur, Smithsonian featured his colorized water drops on its blog in 2012, and the Hearst Foundation has two of his images in its permanent collection in New York. Irving posts his best work on his Facebook page and keeps his website up to date. Mobley photographed Irving holding an antique camera.
On the cover of the book is Howard Munce of Westport, Connecticut, who was born on November 27, 1915. A schoolteacher encouraged Howard to become an artist even though that was considered nearly an impossible way to make a living at the time. Still, he was accepted at Pratt Institute of Art in Brooklyn and graduated in 1939. That was the same year World War II broke out, and Howard enlisted in the Marines. There, he rose to the rank of first lieutenant, but he kept drawing, sending illustrations and letters from theaters all over the Pacific to fellow artist and friend Steven Dohanos. Those drawings were later donated to the New Britain Museum of American Art’s military collection, and Howard was recognized as a veteran artist in the documentary film Art in the Face of War. When he returned from war, Howard found work at advertising agencies. He met his wife, Gerry, at Young & Rubicam, and they were married for sixty years until her death in 2014.
And so it goes. Each story is interesting, and each photo is a revelation of character and personality. As Norman Lear says in his Foreword, “For all I’ve lived through in my nine-plus decades, I still have a lot to learn. Paul Mobley’s portraits show the true heart and soul of his noble subjects, and I’m sure a good deal of what I’m lacking I’ll find in his gorgeous book.”
Paul Mobley is an award-winning photographer recognized for his compelling portraits of celebrities and extraordinary Americans. His 2008 book, American Farmer: The Heart of Our Country (Welcome), earned a number of awards, including the Independent Book Award for Outstanding Book (IPPY). Allison Milionis is a writer, editor, and the author of Horse Sanctuary (Universe). Her stories, essays, and interviews have appeared in national and international publications, in books, on radio, and online. Norman Lear began his television-writing career in 1950. He is best known for producing the Emmy Award–winning “All in the Family,” as well as “Sanford and Son” and “The Jeffersons.”
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© If I Live to Be 100 (Welcome Books, 2016). All photographs © Paul Mobley. No images may be used without written consent from the publisher.
REISSUES WORTH MENTIONING
When I first started working in conservation magazine publishing, Peter Beard had already made a name for himself for his photographic work in Africa (and for dating and marrying supermodel Cheryl Tiegs). He was one of a handful of exceptional wildlife photographers, and he had a keen interest in African wildlife populations. His first book, The End of the Game (1965), was groundbreaking. He spoke of the plundering of the elephant, among other wildlife species. Author and critic David Levi Strauss called The End of the Game “an epic visual poem.” In December 2015, Taschen republished the seminal work in a 50th anniversary limited edition of 5,000, available on Amazon for $68.99 (price may fluctuate).
Another reissue, Simply Beautiful Photographs, contains some of the most spectacular photographs to be found in National Geographic’s Image Collection. Award-winning photographer Annie Griffiths edited the collection to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty. This edition of Simply Beautiful Photographs, first published in 2009, has a mini-format, but it contains the same stunning images.
Niki Barrie was the Editor of The Picture Professional from 1991 through 2011 and a recipient of ASPP’s 2006 Picture Professional of the Year Award, an award that she helped to conceive to honor our colleagues who have made great contributions to the photo industry. She is a freelance writer, editor, and picture editor. Her children’s adventure novel, Clover and the Twins, was published in 2013, and Niki hopes to finish a sequel this year.