2017 in Review: NatGeo China, PDN, LensCulture

Cover stories about Living Wild in the Stone Age, with National Geographic Traveler China and Coast Mountain Culture (Canada).

2017 In Review:

NatGeo China, PDN, LensCulture

As I reflect on a tumultuous 2017, I try to remember that the stories I’ve worked on will outlast this one moment in time. It has been a breakout year for this emerging photographer, with awards and cover stories, yet my favorite memories have all been when I’ve stood in the middle of nowhere, far from any internet connection, surrounded by timeless human community. –Kiliii Yüyan


Cover and 3 Features: National Geographic Traveller China

As a long-form documentary photographer, I often don’t see my work come into publication for many years. This December though, it seems that it has all landed at once– My work with the Living Wild project is on the cover of November issue of National Geographic Traveller China, and I have two additional features in the December issue.

December’s issue covers the Iñupiaq relationship to the Arctic Ocean, and includes a feature on my work in the collection of “Greatest Photographs of 2017”.

It is my hope that the indigenous perspective opens eyes in China, where it is generally unknown. Nonetheless, millions of indigenous peoples live in China, and their stories are the stories of Native peoples everywhere: Land is life.


Tuvaq wins 2017 PX3: Prix de la Photographie Gold Award

The PX3 competition is one of Europe’s largest photo prizes, despite being only a decade old. This morning as I was logged into the PX3 website to enter for 2018, I made a surprising discovery– that my work Tuvaq, had won the Gold award in the Press and Nature/Environmental category for 2017. I suppose their email notification had disappeared into my junk mail box?

This edit of images from People of the Whale has a distinctly fine-art perspective, and is a look at what sights and sounds you encounter when living on the sea ice in Arctic Alaska with the Iñupiaq. Quyanaq for looking.

People of the Whale wins 2017 PDN World in Focus Award

PDN has awarded my series ‘People of the Whale‘ in the 2017 World in Focus Travel Photography Competition. It’s a set of images that give you the feeling of being out on the sea ice in Arctic Alaska. From my statement about the series:

Far out on the ice, under the never-setting sun of Arctic spring, time evaporates. The mind calms and you begin to inhale the world around you: the cold, the wind, the ice, the quiet, the wait.

But underneath the damper of stillness, life boils. Out on the tuvaq–the expansive interface of sea and ice–everything happens. On the tuvaq, the whale breaches. The maktaq is eaten. The hunters watch the horizon. We wait. There is no need for words. The mind is still.

Many thanks to my Iñupiaq friends and crew who made it possible to tell the story of life in the far North, and to the mystery of the sea ice.

People of the Whale wins PDN 2017 Award

PDN has awarded my series ‘People of the Whale‘ in the 2017 Photo Annual. It’s a small set of images that give you a glimpse into the deep community of Iñupiat village Utqiagviq, Alaska.

My selection of images for PDN focuses on an Iñupiaq concept called ilitqusiat, or that which makes strangers into family. In a sense, I found this idea to be compelling because I was a stranger when I initially arrived in the Arctic villages where I did this work, but more so because the Iñupiat are at their core, about community.

ilitqusiat– (n) that which makes strangers into family.

I think if I’ve come away with any single observation, it is that Western cultures have a difficult time even conceiving how deep and different the indigenous concept of community is. Rather than some kind of single collective mind consuming all individual will, the Iñupiat are just individuals that believe in individualism, but whose highest callings are to serve their communities.

Qunayaq to all the friends who have made me their family there, and to my ilitqusiat experiences on the North Slope.