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UW Alumnus, National Geographic Photojournalist Joe Riis to Speak in Laramie Nov. 30

October 6, 2017
antelope in a stream
“Yellowstone Migrations,” a new book published by Braided River, features the work of wildlife photojournalist Joe Riis, a UW alumnus.

Wildlife photojournalist Joe Riis, who has documented the migrations of pronghorn, mule deer and elk in Wyoming for more than a decade, will give a presentation and book signing at the Gryphon Theatre in Laramie Thursday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m.

Riis will share work from his new book, “Yellowstone Migrations,” from nonprofit publisher Braided River, which will be available for purchase following the presentation. The Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources and the Wyoming Migration Initiative, both housed at the University of Wyoming, along with Braided River, sponsor the presentation.

Riis earned a degree in wildlife biology as well as environment and natural resources from UW in 2008. As he finished school, he was embarking on his first wildlife photography project, often using motion sensor-triggered cameras to photograph the 100-mile-long migration of pronghorn antelope between the Green River Basin and Grand Teton National Park in western Wyoming. Following his graduation, he received small grants from the university and the National Geographic Society that supported him as he lived in his truck and worked on the pronghorn migration project for two years along with writer and UW graduate Emilene Ostlind. He captured the first-ever photographs to convey the essence of the migration, the challenges the animals face in their journey and the ecological significance of the corridor to the species.

That work led to additional wildlife photojournalism projects both globally and in Wyoming. In 2013-14, Riis created the first photos and videos of the 150-mile-long Red Desert-to-Hoback mule deer migration, in collaboration with biologist Hall Sawyer, who discovered and mapped the corridor. Following that project, Riis teamed up with ecologist Arthur Middleton to photograph and produce a film about the far-ranging Yellowstone elk migrations. These three journeys -- pronghorn, mule deer and elk -- are the focus of Riis’s new book, “Yellowstone Migrations,” available this month from Braided River.

man standing on a mountainside
Joe Riis will present on his wildlife photography adventures Thursday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. at the Gryphon Theatre in Laramie. (Joe Riis Photo)

“What I hope to do is to encourage people to see the landscape from the animals’ point of view,” Riis says. “Animals don’t see boundaries or borders. Their quest for food and shelter is instinctual, and I hope my images help people understand and experience that.”

In an era of scientific discovery around migrations dominated by increasingly detailed tracking data, remotely sensed maps and big data, Riis’s work stands out for bringing intimate portraits of the critical journeys these animals make twice a year. Riis is a Photography Fellow at National Geographic as well as at the Wyoming Migration Initiative. Since 2009, he has worked on natural history photography assignments for National Geographic on five continents. “Yellowstone Migrations” is the first book to feature his images exclusively.

At his Laramie presentation, Riis will share photos and video clips from his life on the trails of these wildlife migrations. A book signing and reception will follow the presentation. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit or contact Ostlind at or (307) 766-2604.

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