Photographer Kiliii Yüyan credits his grandmother for awakening in him a desire to live close to nature.

Living Wild | (Kiliii Yüyan)

Born and raised in the U.S., Yüyan is a descendent of the Nanai people from Siberia and the Han Chinese. And he grew up surrounded by his grandmother's indigenous fables of talking animals and adventures in the wild.

"It was magical," he told Sierra magazine in 2016. "As a kid, being able to ride on the back of an orca or talk to a seal was so exciting to me, and I think that really carried over."

Yüyan is a revivalist. He has dedicated his career, as a documentary photographer and traditional kayak-builder, to re-introducing indigenous culture and technology into the modern world.

This revivalist drive began in earnest about 15 years ago. "[I] was interested in learning some of the traditional skills of living close to the land as my ancestors had," he said in an interview with The Week. "Being an indigenous person and raised non-traditionally, it was of great interest to me."

He began attending classes that taught primitive technology and workshops on wilderness skills. Through these forums he met other revivalists like Lynx Vilden, who guides groups into the wilderness where they live primitively in an effort to connect with nature.

Lynx Vilden, from Living Wild. | (Kiliii Yüyan)

Yüyan joined Vilden in the wild and his early experiences there set him on a professional course guided by aboriginal cultures and natural histories. He has photographed indigenous communities in Alaska, Australia, Canada, and Scandinavia, focusing on the people, wildlife, and the changing land.

In the summer of 2014, he returned to Vilden and her wilderness school, the Four Seasons Prehistoric Project. Through two long periods, Yüyan traveled from his home in Seattle to join the small group of wilderness fellows and document their immersion program in Washington's North Cascades mountain range.

The result is a dynamic collection of portraits and documentary photographs called Living Wild. His documentary work reveals the interdependent nature required of those who want to live, not just survive, in the wild. The frankness of the portraits, against black backgrounds, offer an up-close look at the serious, often weathered, faces of those trying to dedicate themselves to the land.

Living Wild | (Kiliii Yüyan)

The group learned how to make bows and arrows and stone tools. They foraged, built shelters, and hiked in 100-degree heat. They also learned how to deal with some of nature's greatest threats.

"One evening, a lightning storm raged through the camp and started a fire," Yüyan said. "We were chased by trees falling all around us and flaming embers — it was pretty scary."

The cooperative way the group has to work in the wild influenced how Yüyan photographed — when the sound of the shutter of his go-to camera disrupted hunts, he switched to a camera that would allow him to blend in with his surroundings.

"Understanding the land is critical to our future success as humans," he said. "Although these are modern people returning to a primitive lifestyle for a short time, they developed a strong understanding of the ecological systems of their place and that was incredibly powerful for them."

Below, view a selection of Yüyan's work to see what it's like to live wild.

Living Wild | (Kiliii Yüyan)

Living Wild | (Kiliii Yüyan)

Living Wild | (Kiliii Yüyan)

Living Wild | (Kiliii Yüyan)

Living Wild | (Kiliii Yüyan)

Living Wild | (Kiliii Yüyan)

Living Wild | (Kiliii Yüyan)

**For more of Kiliii Yüyan's work, check out his website, or follow him on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.**