"The world is full of stories. But how many of those stories just tell us what we already know? How many of those stories teach us to see the world from a truly different perspective?"
Photographer Kiliii Yuyan illuminates the stories of lives bound to the land and sea. Raised by parents seeking refuge in the US, Kiliii is informed by ancestry that is both Nanai/Hèzhé (East Asian Indigenous) and Chinese. Inspired by how Indigenous and local human communities relate to the natural world, he searches for insights through different cultural perspectives. Kiliii makes photographic stories for the pages of National Geographic Magazine, TIME, and other major publications.
Arctic survival skills, coldwater diving, and a penchant for listening have been critical for Kiliii’s projects in extreme environments and cultures outside his own. On assignment, he has escaped collapsing sea ice, survived a stalking polar bear, and found kinship at the edges of the world. In addition, Kiliii builds traditional kayaks, part of the cultural memory of Northern Indigenous culture.
In 2023, Kiliii received one of National Geographic's top honors, the Eliza Scidmore Award, and was named one of PDN's top 30 in 2019. He is a member of Indigenous Photograph and Diversify Photo. His work appears in galleries and museums worldwide and been honored by Leica, PDN, CommArts, ASMP, and Px3. Kiliii's public speaking inspires others about photographic storytelling, multicultural perspectives and the splendor of nature. Kiliii is based out of traditional Duwamish lands (Seattle), but can be found across the circumpolar Arctic much of the year.
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- 2022, Gift of the Whale, Whale Tales, HI
- 2021, Photographing the Land at its Extremes, Nikon + Creative Photo Academy, Torrence, CA
- 2021, Keynote: North, First Light Image Festival, Whitehorse, CA
- 2019, People of the Whale, Museum of Art, Fort Collins, CO
- 2019, Season of the Whale, National Geographic Photography Seminar, Washington D.C.
- 2018, On the Sea Ice, We Wear White, George Eastman Museum, Rochester, NY
Selected Awards & Honors
- National Geographic Eliza Scidmore Award, 2023
- Zeke Award for Systemic Change, 2022, 1st Place
- Grist 50 Climate and Sustainability Fixer, 2022
- Leica Oskar Barnard Award, 2021, Finalist
- Society of Publication Designers, 2020, 1st Place
- Nia Tero Storytelling Fellow, 2020
- US Embassy Headline Artist, UAE: RAK Fine Arts, 2020
- International Photography Awards, 2019, 1st Place
- PDN’s Top 30 Emerging Photographers, 2019
- PCNW 22nd Juried Exhibition, 2019, 1st Place
- Best of ASMP, 2018, 1st Place
- Eddie Adams Workshop XXXI, 2018
- PDN World in Focus, 2017, 1st Place
- Px3 Prix de la Photographie Paris, 2017, 1st Place
- 2002, National Geographic Pictures of the Year, Highline Nine Gallery, NY
- 2022, Thin Places, Turchin Center for Visual Arts, Boone, NC
- 2021, Rumors of Arctic Belonging, Blue Sky Gallery, Portland, OR
- 2020, Lenscratch, Spirit: Indigenous Art, Artists and Issues, Griffin Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
- 2020, In/side Out, National Cheng Kung Art Center, Taipei, Taiwan
- 2020, Connected Communities, National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
- 2019, People of the Whale, Center for Fine Art Photography, Museum of Art Fort Collins, CO
- 2018, On the Sea Ice, We Wear White, Glazer’s Camera, Seattle, WA