David Yarrow Photo Raises Questions About ‘Identical Giraffes’

David Yarrow is known for selling fine-art wildlife photos, which his website states are “regularly selling at over $70,000 a piece.” Recently, a new photo uploaded to Instagram has raised questions about the image.


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“This bizarre frame, captured by a watering hole on the North east side of Amboseli dry lake, was taken with a 28mm lens placed on a remote-controlled camera,” writes Yarrow in his caption. “One unbelievable piece of luck resulted in this image.

“The focus was fine, although I have no other photograph from the series.”

Giraffes are known to have a unique spread of markings on their coats, just like zebras. If you look closely at the two giraffes closest to the camera, their coats appear to have identical markings.

Professional wildlife photographer David Lloyd, who is an advocate of honesty and ethics in nature photography, put the question to Yarrow in the comments of his Instagram post. Yarrow has yet to respond to Lloyd’s questions publicly.

David Yarrow

“The markings are unquestionably the same,” Lloyd told Nature TTL. “The question is how it was achieved? Double exposure? Post production? He doesn’t say.

“Yarrow makes no mention of anything unconventional in his incredibly thorough story caption. He writes of the ‘low percentage idea,’ remote, lens, focus, and his unbelievable piece of good luck. But no mention of how he wound up with two identical giraffes front-lit on a back-lit sky. Naturally it raises questions and the result challenges his own story. It’s all very odd.”

What is a photo composite?

Photo compositing is the “combining of visual elements from separate sources into single images, often to create the illusion that all those elements are parts of the same scene.” Nowhere is there a photographic rule book that says this isn’t allowed, and photographers are all perfectly within their rights to create photo composites.

Despite that, there is a general feeling in photography circles that compositing images without making this fact clear is frowned upon.

During the recent controversy surrounding Wildlife Photographer of the Year with an apparent stuffed anteater scooping up the top spot (although only to be later disqualified), The Guardian published an article about “fakery” in wildlife photography.

In the article, Yarrow is very open about his feelings with regards to photography and art. “I am an artist. I make pictures rather than take them,” he is quoted as saying. “Nothing crosses the line in the art world. You can superimpose Krakatoa erupting in the background and Darth Vader coming over the hill.”

It seems, then, that Yarrow is open about his acceptance of the use of photo composites. However, the caption of the photo in question does not make any mention of the use of photo composites.

It is also possible that the giraffes are identical twins, although this is an incredibly rare occurrence.

What do you think about photo composites? Let us know in the comments below.

Nature TTL has reached out to Yarrow’s team for comment.

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