Skip to Main Content

Apply Now to the University of Wyoming apply now
Menu
Contact Us

Institutional Communications

Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137

Laramie

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2929

Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window) Find us on Twitter (Link opens a new window)

UW Bristol Photojournalism Project Focuses on COVID-19 Impact on Greater Yellowstone Area

October 27, 2020
man sweeping empty room
A Lake Yellowstone Hotel staff member sweeps the venue’s empty lobby where, in a normal summer tourist season, would be flowing with tourists. The photograph is among the works from Casper’s Conor Mullen, the recipient of the 2020 Larsh Bristol Photojournalism Fellowship at UW. (Conor Mullen Photo)

Conor Mullen, the recipient of the 2020 Larsh Bristol Photojournalism Fellowship at the University of Wyoming, this past summer focused on the impacts of COVID-19 on Wyoming’s tourism industry, especially in the greater Yellowstone area.

The fellowship is an annual award for UW students to support strong visual storytelling projects. It is named in honor of Larsh Bristol, a UW journalism graduate who died in 2006. The fellowship has been hosted by UW’s Department of Communication and Journalism since 2008.

Mullen found a passion for photography 15 years ago when he found inspiration in the works of photojournalists such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank.

“With the pandemic, I was interested in what life would look like around Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks this summer,” says Mullen, a master’s degree candidate in social work from Casper. “I understood that it was going to impact people’s businesses, livelihoods and personal health, not only of those in the park, but also the towns surrounding it. I wanted to document those impacts on the area to better our understanding of the pandemic and responses to it.”

The presentation of Mullen’s photojournalism work will be Thursday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. on Zoom. To receive the Zoom link, send an email to ajamalud@uwyo.edu.

Mullen says he knew there would be potential that the parks would remain completely closed because of COVID-19. He found that, despite the pandemic, there were long traffic lines on opening day, with tourists filling the campgrounds, parking lots and hiking trails at Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

Where certain places in the parks saw crowds, other locations, such as Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park, were closed for the summer, with much of the furniture and photos on the walls covered up.

people in masks
A masked Yellowstone National Park ranger speaks with visitors strolling around the boardwalk near Old Faithful as onlookers await an eruption of the park’s best-known geyser. (Conor Mullen Photo)

“I witnessed this dynamic throughout the region,” Mullen says. “The Shoshone Rose Casino on the Wind River Indian Reservation, just outside of Lander, which normally would be full of visitors, has been closed to the public since mid-March.”

These scenes were what Mullen was trying to convey in his photojournalism project. He documented the impacts not only in the national parks, but also in Jackson, Cody, Dubois, the Wind River Indian Reservation, and parts of Idaho and Montana.

“The thing that has stuck with me since completing the project is the level of patience and professionalism that I saw being shown to visitors by workers in the parks and in the communities surrounding the parks,” he says. “Some visitors chose to ignore health recommendations and requirements, but that disrespect was never returned. Workers in the area remained kind and welcoming, even in the face of stressful, troubling and uncertain times.”

“Conor’s presentation is another great example of outstanding photojournalism that has been showcased by the fellows,” says Cindy Price Schultz, head of the UW Department of Communication and Journalism. “Documenting something so life-changing, such as a pandemic, is important to Wyoming from both economic and historic perspectives.”

Contact Us

Institutional Communications

Bureau of Mines Building, Room 137

Laramie

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307) 766-2929

Email: cbaldwin@uwyo.edu

Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window) Find us on Twitter (Link opens a new window)

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
UW Operators (307) 766-1121 | Contact Us | Download Adobe Reader

Accreditation | Virtual Tour | Emergency Preparedness | Employment at UW | Privacy Policy | Harassment & Discrimination | Accessibility Accessibility information icon