To many Americans, Wasilla, Alaska, seems like a very distant corner of the national map. For the photographer Bill Hess, 60, it is just the starting point.
He has spent about half his life traveling from his home in Wasilla to the far more remote realms of the North Slope Borough, where the Inupiat people live. He pilots his own bush plane and, once on the ground, travels by snowmobile or dog sled. He is home.
“Alaska speaks to me as no other place I have ever been,” Mr. Hess said. “I love Alaska with every piece of flesh and spirit that is me. It speaks most strongly in the communities and camps of its native people, for they have ties to the land, sea and animals — and knowledge of the same — that is possessed by no one else. I can feel that when I am with them. When I am not with them, I miss that feeling.”
Above: Ralph Ahkivgak assured a gray whale in Barrow that it would be rescued from the slush ice in which it was temporarily trapped. The Inupiat do nut typically hunt grey whales.