This photo project was done in partnership with High Country News. You can see more of Yuyan’s work on its website here.
Photographer Kiliii Yuyan stumbled across a lone woman on the beach by accident. Flying his drone over Oregon’s iconic northern coastline at the start of the pandemic, he expected to capture miles of empty sand. Instead, in the midst of giant swaths of deserted shore, he saw a tiny figure on his UAV screen, weaving and bobbing in front of the waves.
“As I got closer,” he says, “I finally realized she was dancing—whirling and twirling on the sand. It was so beautiful.”
Yuyan describes this as his favorite moment during a road trip this spring to capture the American West amid the pandemic.
Traveling around Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Idaho, the photographer spoke with people getting outside during the COVID-19 crisis, asking each the same questions: How has the virus affected you personally? And what advice do you have for humanity right now?
Yuyan’s own advice is simple: “The more you know, the less you need. That’s one of the things they say in the survival-skills world,” he says, drawing on wisdom he got from working with the likes of Lynx Vilden. “I think we’re having to look inward a lot during this time.”
Photo: For a period during the pandemic, the Sun Valley Resort town of Ketchum, Idaho, had one of the highest caseloads of COVID-19 per capita in the nation.