Photograph by John Eastcott and Yva Momatiuk
Photograph by Mary Frische
Husband-and-wife team and internationally published photographers of natural history subjects and aboriginal cultures, John Eastcott and Yva Momatiuk often work in faraway locations. Documentary in their approach, they photograph remote, wild places, while stressing the spiritual importance of wilderness and showing an uneasy relationship between the growing demands of developing communities and the shrinking wildlife habitats in their backyard.
Born in Poland, Momatiuk holds an M.A. in architecture and urban planning. She worked as a designer for the prestigious New York firm of Harrison & Abramovitz before she decided to leave the landscape of Manhattan for a remote Wyoming cattle ranch near the Great Divide, where she rode horses, rounded out cows, photographed, and wrote.
A New Zealander, Eastcott published his first book of photographs at 17, earned his degree in photography in London, and met Momatiuk while touring the American West. They decided to share their photographic credits and published their first National Geographic magazine story, "Still Inuit, Still Free," in 1977.
The couple's work for the National Geographic Society includes articles about Maori tribes of New Zealand's East Cape, high-country sheep farmers of New Zealand, and mountain people of Poland and Slovakia. They worked for a year in Labrador and Newfoundland on another story and a book chapter for the Society. Their article "Dance of Death," published in 2004, contains the first known pictorial account of a dying Alaskan moose stalked by a family of wolves and grizzly bears who move in to share the bounty.
For several years, Eastcott and Momatiuk also followed the mustangs of the American West and had their work published by Smithsonian as its cover story in 1997. They spent three summers exploring the Pribilof Archipelago and other islands of the Bering Sea in Alaska, documenting a rich marine wildlife and a program designed to strengthen the young Aleuts' link with the natural world. The coverage was published in Audubon and National Wildlife magazines and in Ranger Rick, for which they received its annual Magazine Writing Award. It also brought Eastcott and Momatiuk an annual award of the Alaska Conservation Foundation for excellence in still photography.
Eastcott and Momatiuk's photo essays and words also appeared in Nature Conservancy, GEO, BBC Wildlife, Stern, the Observer, Wildlife Conservation, Equinox, and Nature Canada. They have published four books: High Country (A.W.& A.H. Reed), This Marvellous Terrible Place: Images of Newfoundland and Labrador, and In a Sea of Wind: Images of the Prairies (Camden House Publishing), as well as Mustang (Rufus Publications), with an essay by Sharon Curtin.
Their photographs, strongly conceptual and containing a vivid graphic component, lend themselves well to book and magazine covers and to commercial applications. Among other honors, Eastcott and Momatiuk have received four awards at the National Press Photographers Association Pictures of the Year and five awards at the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year international competitions.
In recent years, Eastcott and Momatiuk explored Antarctica in a small sailboat, and in 2008, they produced "Shore Leave," a National Geographic magazine photo essay about the southern elephant seals of South Georgia Island. Recently they wrote a Defenders of Wildlife article about global climate changes and their impact on many species of penguins, as well as two titles for the acclaimed National Geographic Society series of non-fiction children's books: Face to Face With Wild Horses and Face to Face With Penguins.
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