In the farthest reaches of northern Alaska, aboriginal hunters carry on ancient traditions of kayak-building, fishing, and subsistence hunting, all of which are under threat from rapid changes to our climate.
Lens Culture, now a decade old, has transformed from an award to an authoritative magazine on contemporary photography. It’s an honor to be featured there.
Author Gina Williams delves into my photography and recent story ‘People of the Whale’ to find out more about what made it happen and what it’s all about.
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.
Communication Arts magazine, a professional journal for those involved in creativity in visual communications, has announced the winners of its 58th annual photography competition. One hundred and forty-one projects were selected by a jury of creative professionals; 3,736 entries were submitted to the competition.
On the great expanse of sea ice, under the eternal 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 walrus is harpooned. The maktaq is eaten. We wait. There is no need for words. The mind is still.
Stillness of the mind, stillness that flows from quiet observation, is a concept embedded in every indigenous culture I have ever encountered. It’s a notion never truly grasped by a mind accustomed to the frantic pace of a modern world. For two years, I lived alongside an Iñupiaq whaling crew in the farthest reaches of Alaska’s northern coast.
For me, going north meant going home. I have devoted my life to reclaiming an indigenous heritage stripped away in a generation by communism, war, and stigma. Out on the sea ice, I found a comfort among a culture that was new, yet familiar: fiercely independent yet living for each other, grounded in tradition yet unheedingly pragmatic.
I also found stillness.
Tuvaq: Edge of the Ice is an exploration of the stillness and quiet mystery that envelopes and defines life on the tuvaq.
I just had the pleasure of speaking with Ibarionex Perello, host of the Candid Frame podcast and a well known-street photographer. Ibarionex and I were recently co-presenters at the photo expo PIX2015. I’m excited to be on the show since I’ve been a long time fan of the Candid Frame, which is really the best podcast on photography out there– it focuses on the art and process of photography rather than gear and technique.
We talked primarily about the Living Wild project, my long-term project on modern hunter-gatherer practitioners, as well as bit about my background growing up as a Native/Chinese kid and learning self-reliance. You can play/download it directly here.
Living Wild documents a group of 21st century hunter-gatherers who are rediscovering the traditional living skills of the Paleolithic. I gave a presentation on this multi-year documentary project for National Geographic at DPreview’sPhoto Interactive Expo 2015. It was a fabulous experience and I had the opportunity to share the stage with some of my heroes, including Aaron Huey, Cristina Mittermier and Joe McNally. More if you click through.
*Note, the YouTube link above is the ‘quick’ version and will be replaced by the final edited version. If it doesn’t work, try http://www.pix2015.com/videos.
A rare lightning storm over recent lava flows on Hawaii
Folks, I’m humbled to announce that Communication Arts has chosen my lightning image from the Pahoehoe Lava flows in Hawaii for their 2015 Photo Annual. If you’re a subscriber to CommArts, here’s a link to the Photo Annual.
Adventure Kayak arrived in the mail today with a feature interview with me about my life, photography, and particularly traditional kayak-building. You can read the interview on page 24 here: Adventure Kayak Summer 2014. Fabulous photograph of me by my friend and fellow photographer Oliver Ludlow.
Au Magazine is Aurora Photo‘s quarterly publication, an amazing collection of shots by the best in adventure and stock photography. This quarter I’m humbled to be among the featured photographers alongside some amazing talents, covering combat photography to fine art. I’m also sad to say goodbye to longtime Aurora Director of Photography Peter Dennen, who has with this final issue moved into photo consulting with Pedro+Jackie.
Last month I was interviewed by Chris Smith (@theecjsmith), Founder & Host of the Shoot For Thrill Podcast. The podcast is one of the top podcast in iTunes and focuses on successful photographers that are at the top of their craft who desire to spur on inspiration and action in others. There are some great interviews with some fantastic shooters on there, such as Joel Grimes and Delphine Diallo, definitely worth listening to.During our podcast we talked about my personal background as a developing photographer, the path to inspiration through personal work, the need to assist, and the business side of commercial photography.In the interview Chris drew out of me not only my story, but also some struggles I went through, successes I found, and we even talked about some of the gear I use. I would love for you to hear the story of my journey. Take a listen below and let me know what you think. http://shootforthrill.com/kiliiifish
Hey all, just returned from Hawaii to discover my interview with Mike Williams of Deadpoint Magazine, or DPM. This issue covers some great climbers (Ashima and Jimmy Webb), as well as four glorious double spreads of my photos from the ROCK series.
If you want a great inside look at how those images were made and don’t mind me rambling about artistic vision, then take a look inside! I talk about technical ability vs vision, production, and compositing adventure images. Oh, and you must excuse the Papyrus font– like adventure, sometimes it just happens.