By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Ever since Lorri Lang came to northeast Wyoming more than 30 years ago, she’s been in awe of the state’s natural beauty.
There are the obvious choices to check out beautiful scenery, like heading to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park or trekking to Devil’s Tower. While Lang loves those sites, she also wanted people to understand how absolutely gorgeous other areas of the state are.
“My family lives here up near the Big Horns, so we travel a lot in that area,” Lang said. “But I haven’t been able to travel the rest of the state as much. So this group was a chance for me and other people to get a different glimpse of Wyoming.”
Around five years ago, Lang was inspired by a Facebook page she followed, “Nebraska through the Lens,” to create a similar page. As a Nebraska native, she loved seeing photographers from all over the state, whether amateur or professional, take images that captured what life was like in her home state.
She thought a similar page focusing on Wyoming would provide a great chance to show current and former Wyoming residents, people who had come through the state to vacation and people who love gorgeous photography, a chance to see a unique side of the state.
She didn’t think it would be a big group. Maybe some friends would join it. They could even possibly get some of their friends added to it.
Quickly, Lang saw that she had more member requests than she could have ever expected. More and more people wanted to check out “Wyoming through The Lens.”
Since its inception, the group has garnered more than 111,000 members, trailing not too far behind the Nebraska page that inspired it, which boasts around 188,000 users.
“I think people have this idea of Wyoming that’s centered around coal and oil,” Lang said. “But there is so much more to it than that. I love Wyoming and I think this page is important because they can see what it’s really like.”
The group is technically private, requiring a Facebook user to answer a few questions (such as why they want to join) to gain entry. Being a Wyoming resident (either current or former) isn’t a requirement, because Lang hopes people all over the country will come to the group to see the glory of Wyoming.
The cover photo of “Wyoming through The Lens” features a herd of bison lightly covered in snow. It has generated around 1,000 likes or reactions, three dozen comments and more than 60 shares. All of the comments praise the image for how perfectly it defines Wyoming, with some people even inquiring on how to purchase the photo.
The next post a member will see when scrolling through the page is arguably its most important: the rules. These include staying drama-free, telling members to not use the page to sell photography equipment, letting members know that all photos submitted should be taken in Wyoming and a number of other restrictions. Mainly, Lang reiterates that people in the group should be kind to each other and that political or religious intolerance won’t be tolerated.
Since the group’s inception, Lang discovered that running a popular Facebook page will show people not getting along. The political posts and comments have become more and more frequent, causing some stress for Lang and even other members. She’s not alone in running the page anymore, though, bringing on another administrator and a few moderators a couple years into the page’s life.
“At first, there weren’t a lot of political posts,” she said. “But in the last few years, they really gained traction. I don’t like when name-calling occurs, and it definitely has happened.”
She cited examples such as photos of the Trump family plane landing in Cheyenne and images of dead animals from hunting expeditions as pictures that brought in numerous political comments. But sometimes, people just bring up politics when a photo has nothing to do with anything in the political realm.
Sometimes comments on posts get turned off if members break the rules, such as a man who posted an image of his living room, trying to subtly show off his custom-made log furniture. One of the moderators called him out, saying “You can’t advertise your business here, even though you gave it a shot of disguising it.”
Mostly though, people show off just glimpses of their lives. From a woman showing that she was sweeping snow off of her porch in a pair of shorts to a man taking a picture of his Christmas light display. And these are the people who keep Lang running the page.
Even if the political comments can be a headache, Lang will run “Wyoming through The Lens” as long as people keep wanting to see Wyoming photography.
“I just want people to get along and not nitpick each other,” she said. “This page is totally worth it to me because I love Wyoming and so many other people do too.”