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British fine art photographer and conservationist David Yarrow: My Best Life in 10 answers

David Yarrow is a British fine art photographer, conservationist and author. He pursued a highly successful career in finance whilst dedicating his time to photography.

He was named Young Scottish Photographer of the Year at the age of 20 whilst studying at Edinburgh University. In the same year (1986) he covered the World Cup in Mexico for The Times. His photo of Diego Maradona holding the trophy aloft was internationally syndicated.

David worked as an institutional stockbroker in UK equities, both in London and New York City. In 1993 he was appointed Director of Equities at NatWest Securities where he worked until leaving to found his London-based hedge fund, Clareville Capital in 1995.

Africa by David Yarrow

His passion and interest in photography remained constant throughout this period, which prompted Spear’s magazine to liken him to James Boswell in an article that explored Yarrow’s “double-life” as hedge fund manager and artist.

David’s wildlife shots, high-profile collaborations and the ability to earn millions for conservation and healthcare funds are just some of the hallmarks for which he has received global attention.

During lockdown he unveiled his latest photographic series—a collection of images capturing the lives of cowboys in West Texas— and last April, Yarrow released the exclusive image titled ‘Our Pride’, which was on target to raise a million for the NHS. It was part of the virtual ‘Art for Heroes’ exhibition, which was set up by London’s Maddox Gallery to raise money for the charitable organisation HEROES.

He has recently launched the podcast In Focus with David Yarrow.

1. What has been your Best Life Project to date?

Improving at being a photographer. You have to be your own biggest critic and every day you have a chance to improve. I can’t home in on one project because they have all taught me something new and to improve is everything.

2. The unknown … what challenges did you have to overcome?

Just to be authentic, to transcend, to get better, to be resourceful, hungry for new ideas. Deal with failure, scepticism, hate, indifference, but always to overcome indifference. More than anything I have a paranoia of the mundane.

3.  In hindsight…..what would you do differently?

Diamonds in the sky by David Yarrow

I might have found a film crew to shoot behind the scenes and pay for them, at an earlier stage in my career. It would be great to have those stories to tell – perhaps it makes it more special that it was just me and a camera often.

4. Next steps?

On The Wild West Series I will create my anthology to the folklore of the American push West. We are playing with a lot of character vignettes and it is the most creatively stimulating journey I’ve taken with a camera.

5. What lifestyle changes has lockdown made you consider?

Being kinder.

6. Kissing frogs …. is there an unexpected person who has helped you and, if so, how did they do it?

Rosy – my head of production in the States. I walked into a bar one day and he was the bar man. We photographed his bar spontaneously and ever since he has been on my production team in America – he’s an incredible find.

7. My Inspiration ….who or what inspires you?

Steven Spielberg, and everything he has made. When asked about Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks said: he has a fluency in the language of eliciting an emotional response from the audience. There’s a lot you can learn from that quote as a film maker.

8. How do you relax or do you struggle to relax?

I watch sports – football. I’m not sure how relaxing it is watching Scotland lose but that’s how I switch off.

9. Guilty secret pleasure?

Chocolate mousse.

10. Words of wisdom

Your best picture is always the one you have never taken. It is always ahead of you. Photography is not about a camera, it’s about emotional intelligence or emotional baggage. So, the more experience you have, all other things being equal, the better equipped you will be.

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