'Engineered by Nature' - David Yeo

David Yeo, award winning photographer, is adept at navigating the art world having previously worked for both editorial and commercial clients. He first came to prominence at the age of 19, winning the opportunity to exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, and has since remained in the spot-light collecting a further number of awards including his most recent achievement, the inaugural British Life Photographic competition which he won with an image he shot for British Vogue.

David’s gift for genuinely original and graphically strong imagery comes from a strong visual memory uniting the wholeness of composition with his ability to light and create the perfect mood to complement his subjects.

His previous works cover a diverse mix of subjects from fashion to portraiture and film, and have featured some well-known subjects such as Will Smith, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Rosamund Pike – to name but a few!

'Engineered by Nature' is David’s most innovative image creation to date.

The Idea:

The idea for the project was born through the study of miniature animals. There’s surprisingly little known about the world of miniature animal breeds – both those designed by nature to be effectively small  and those bred small by humans primarily for aesthetic pleasure. By studying everyday objects, inventions and technology - those which nature forms and by which evolution has inspired - the project came to life.

 The Inspiration:

Nature is often the inspiration for the invention or creation of technologies and innovations, and in this case, with miniature animals, we see nature inspiring the engineering of nature itself. 

 When we study everyday objects, inventions and technology, very often we see the process of bio-mimicry utilised; how the intelligent and ever evolving way nature works has been the inspiration for and improvement of so many engineered innovations that we use and rely on day to day.

 Here, David explains a bit about the shoots to expel the myth about photography being glamorous and easy.

The Leica and Lens

Throughout the series, the most challenging of circumstances were experienced: extreme weather conditions, pokey dark locations, unparticipative subjects and never enough changes of clothing. Here’s what made it all possible:


Dwarf Chihuahua with Great Dane

I drove to a completely isolated part of Norfolk to get this combination of sea, sky and mood. Anna went on to the beach with a smoke machine to recreate the mistiness of a previous shoot with the horses. The first challenge was to get the great Dane manoeuvred into position alongside the Dwarf Chihuahua whilst still remaining in the frame. The second challenge was to keep both dogs and the equipment dry between hail storms.

Miniature Mediterranean Donkey with Balloon

This was amongst the most challenging shoot in the series. Navigating inside one of the pens, improvising a tiny shelter to act as the studio roof, negotiating chicken poo in the rain and only having a van as a work station for all the props and equipment. As soon as the miniature Mediterranean Donkey was on the table and let go, she would quickly jump down out of the shot.

African Pygmy Hedgehog under Lightbulb

This was set up in a very small sitting room where space was restricted. The subject may be miniature, weighing a mere 300 grams, but the amount of room needed was essential. The plastic cup ensured the hedgehog appeared relaxed and would look back at me underneath the lightbulb. The most bizarre experience was hearing the frustrated hedgehog noise as if he was clearing his nose. I loved the mixed lighting coming from the lightbulb and the flash.

American Miniature Horse

By far one of the hardest shots in the whole series. This American Miniature Horse may be the smallest horse in the UK, but undoubtedly with the most energy and the feistiest personality. Getting him to stop being the extrovert long enough for me to capture the image was never going to be easy. It was really misty and cold that day, the perfect addition for a cinematic feel.

For a project as challenging and innovative as this, David needed a camera that could support his needs. He chose the Leica S

 Everything about the Leica S is strong and solid; even when changing lenses, you feel the weight of the glass and immediately sense its unique quality. It’s simpler than other medium format cameras - less fussy and with fewer buttons. Everything has been stripped back.

 Leica knows that as a photographer you are limited on time, so the Leica S makes sure you have what’s really essential to get the perfect shot: speed and quality. Essentially, you can pick up the camera and start using it immediately, without any computer-style setup. In this way it has a more organic feel.  The Leica S captures more detail than the human eye can see due to the craftsmanship of its lens and sensor. As such, Leica S files are incredibly high resolution, capturing the most minute of details visible even in large, scaled-up images – an incredibly important feature for David Yeo’s latest project.  After the shoots, David found that editing was a breeze: the images from the camera looked more filmic and cinematic than digital.

The exhibition at the Leica Studio in Mayfair is open to the general public from 19th October – 3rd November.