Stories of the Wild West |

Stories of the Wild West

Kimberly Nicoletti
David Yarrow's 'Woody Creek Tavern.' David Yarrow, courtesy Casterline|Goodman Gallery
David Yarrow, courtesy Casterline|Goodman Gallery

Any other photographer would take the easy way out: Use Photoshop to paste a wolf in a convertible with a gorgeous woman, and call it art. But not David Yarrow. His photos are the real thing.

That wolf standing on its hind legs in the passenger seat of a convertible is actually physically present, right next to model Cara Delevingne. Same with the wolf walking straight toward you, on top of Woody Creek Tavern’s bar.

Yarrow’s scenes all take place in rich locations, be it an Old West bar, the buttes of Montana, the streets of Los Angeles or the wide-open space of Antarctica.

His latest works feature Aspen’s iconic history of glamour and grit, specifically Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro and the legendary Woody Creek Tavern, complete with a Hunter S. Thompson look alike leaning into the wolf (because what else would Gonzo do). The shoot took place from the wee hours of March 17 until 8 p.m. and included working on a powder day, as well as around St. Patty’s Day revelry.

But Yarrow is used to telling stories the hard way. He doesn’t digitally manipulate his scenes; the animals in his Wild West series are sitting or standing right next to the gorgeous models and mountain men. To capture the enormous elephant, lion or cheetah that stare you down, he spends countless hours in Africa, often lying on his belly in a cage with alluring scents smeared on his camera. He literally travels to the ends of the earth to capture king penguins. And he’s as apt at documenting devastating bush fires in Australia as he is working with top models, including Alessandra Ambrosio, Kate Bock, Brooks Nader and Aleska Genesis — all of whom took part in the Aspen shoot, along with actor Wes Studi.

David Yarrow’s ‘Drive,’ 2021, at Casterline|Goodman Gallery. David Yarrow, courtesy Casterline|Goodman Gallery.
David Yarrow, courtesy Casterline|Goodman Gallery

“David Yarrow has documented and photographed stories of the West for many years, and it was an honor to welcome him to Aspen with such high-profile subjects covering a theme near and dear to the hearts of Aspen locals and visitors alike,” Jordan Goodman, co-owner of Casterline|Goodman Gallery said. “He captures the spirit of the West so well in his photography, but David had yet to do a photo shoot in Aspen until this past spring. … The imagery captured was an ode to the history and beauty that is so specific to Aspen.”

Yarrow masterfully tells stories through his photographs, drawing viewers into his adventurous world by combining real animals with actors and models, and capturing them with exquisite light and mood.

The predominant theme he depicts through the six Aspen photos in Casterline|Goodman Gallery’s current exhibition seamlessly blend a 1970’s ski vibe with Aspen’s glamour and grit — from colorful skiers outdoors to the Gonzo days.

David Yarrow’s ‘Persons of interest.’ David Yarrow, courtesy Casterline|Goodman Gallery.
David Yarrow, courtesy Casterline|Goodman Gallery

“David’s an extremely accomplished fine-art photographer. It was incredible to watch him at work this spring on his Aspen shoot day,” Goodman said. “David is able to work with any conditions; that morning it was actually a huge powder day, so it was interesting to watch David use the snowstorm and light to his advantage. On-set things moved at a fast pace; David completed the Cloud Nine photo shoot by 9 a.m., followed by an afternoon photo shoot at Woody Creek Tavern, which is the best location in the valley to speak to the Gonzo era and 1970’s ski culture of Aspen.”

Two of the photos — “Woody Creek Tavern” and “Lock in at Woody Creek Tavern” — are exclusive to Casterline|Goodman Gallery. The exhibition also showcases seven other pieces. The gallery has featured Yarrow’s work for four years, dedicating half of its primary space to the stories that unfold through his images.

David Yarrow’s ‘Lock in at Woody Creek’ is available exclusively at Casterline|Goodman Gallery. David Yarrow, courtesy Casterline|Goodman Gallery
David Yarrow, courtesy Casterline|Goodman GalleryDavid Yarrow-Lock In At Woody Creek_CasterlineGoodman Gallery

Evolution of a photographer

Born in Scotland in 1966, Yarrow took up photography as a teen. At age 20, he shot what became a renowned photo of soccer player Diego Maradona holding the World Cup at the final in Mexico City. It ran in The London Times and ultimately opened the door for Yarrow to cover the Olympics and other sporting events.

But in 1986, photography was a “weird thing people did,” Yarrow said, especially according to his father, who didn’t understand how a photographer could make a living. So, Yarrow went into the finance world.

“I made the right decision, because I met so many fascinating people and learned in a tough industry about business,” he said.

David Yarrow’s ‘Brutus,’ 2021 at Casterline|Goodman Gallery. David Yarrow, courtesy Casterline|Goodman Gallery.
David Yarrow, courtesy Casterline | Goodman Gallery

But when the economy tanked around 2008, he realized, “I wanted to spend the middle of my life with something I could control. Photography was still my passion. Finance was never my passion, but I was responsible to be a breadwinner.”

In 2010, he started making the transition, beginning with photographing ski racers. But he knew every other photographer standing next to him got the same shot, and he wanted to do something more artistic.

“I felt that maybe there was an opportunity in wildlife because we’d be more aware of the fragility of our planet,” he said. “It was an opportunity to get more immersive photos.”

More than meets the eye

When he’s not capturing wildlife head on in their own environment, Yarrow incorporates animals into fashioned scenes, from the Wild West to Wall Street. His titles, like “The Wolves of Wall Street I,” add humor and poignancy to his storytelling; that particular photo showcases high-flying financial crook Jordan Belfort (of Martin Scorsese’s “Wolf of Wall Street”) along with two models, money flying everywhere — and a wolf, front and center.

“I try to include as much information in images as I can,” Yarrow said. “To tell a story, you need layers — foreground, background, middle. … Steven Spielberg said his biggest fear was about boring people, and my biggest fear is boring people. If you start every day with that pretext, I think it’s a good way to work. Photography is all about emotionally connecting with people.”

He also features classic photos of Cindy Crawford and other supermodels, but it’s not just about a pretty face. Last year, his collaboration with Crawford raised more than $3 million for the American Family Children’s Hospital, which had treated her brother for leukemia. Since 2018, Yarrow’s work has earned more than $11 million for philanthropic and conservation organizations.

“I want to make art that people enjoy and that can also raise money for good causes. I think that’s always spiritual,” Yarrow said. “And, if you can remind people of the beauty in the world, that’s good, too.”

David Yarrow’s ‘The Mob,’ 2019 (52 x 81 inches). David Yarrow, courtesy Casterline|Goodman Gallery.
David Yarrow, courtesy Casterline|Goodman Gallery
If you go …

David Yarrow Exhibition: Yarrow’s latest work, including last spring’s Aspen shoot
Through: Sept. 15
Where: Casterline|Goodman Gallery, 611 E. Cooper Ave., Aspen

More at Casterline|Goodman Gallery: The Alison Van Pelt exhibition, “The Wild,” which opened July 15, runs through Sept. 15. Her large-scale statement paintings range from animals and celebrities to admiration of the human body. The show features some of her more refined, deep and holographic work, from fun, hot pink, fuchsia and blue hummingbirds to deeper contemplation on leaders — all of which are meant to bring joy to viewers.
Reception with Van Pelt: 6-8 p.m. Aug. 4

And don’t miss: Munich-based Alexander Höller’s work. Last May, as an artist-in-residence, he created a new series, which is exclusive to the gallery. His large-scale, bright and bold modern paintings emit a punk-rock/rebel vibe, which emerges from his vivid brushstrokes.

More info:

Kimberly Nicoletti is the Aspen Times Weekly editor. She can be reached at or

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