David Yarrow, ‘White Mischief’, 2017, Isabella Garrucho Fine Art

Series: African Lions

Timbavati, South Africa 2017
Indigenous to the Timbavati region of South Africa, white lions are now extremely rare – they are the stuff of children’s fables rather than day to day reality in the bush. White lions need help to survive as a breed.

My friend Kevin Richardson, The Lion Whisperer, still looks after a few, although his favourite white lion in the sanctuary, Thor, was killed by a lightning strike – a perverse twist of fate given that Thor is the god of thunder and lightning. That tragic strike suggested the work of higher powers.

When I first saw this white lioness, her colouring, or indeed lack of it, had a profound and immediate visual impact on me. She was as much a mythological beast as she was a modern day cat. It struck me that we needed to build the narrative around the fact that she was so white. Nothing else really mattered – she should look haunting and ethereal.

I could be nowhere near the camera when we worked this image – these lions are dangerous and big. I operated the remote from at least 60 yards away, but I prefocused precisely on the ridge as I wanted no context other than the fluffy white clouds. This composition I felt would further enhance the sense of a fairytale.

About David Yarrow