Filming Parks from Denali to Joshua Tree


Lian Law, SCA alum, inspires awe with photos & video of America’s parks

An SCA internship at Denali National Park and Preserve may not seem like a natural choice for a a Film and Media Studies major, but for Lian Law, who grew up taking family vacations to parks all over the country, an NPS Live Stream Production Internship was a perfect fit.

Now Lian works as a Social Media Technician for the Great Basin Institute, based in Joshua Tree, and two of her photos—one from Denali, one from Joshua Tree, both of them landscapes lit by the full moon—have been featured on the Department of Interior’s much loved Instagram account.

We were lucky enough to catch up with her for a Q & A recently. Read all the way to the end to see what she plans to do after she finishes up at Joshua Tree. You won’t believe it!  

When/where did you serve with SCA?: March–September 2014, Denali National Park
SCA title: NPS Live Stream Production Intern
Current job: Social Media Technician with the Great Basin Institute at Joshua Tree National Park
Current city: Joshua Tree
College/major: University of Rochester – BA in Film and Media Studies
Hometown: Seneca Falls, NY

What was the coolest thing about being an NPS Live Stream Production Intern at Denali National Park?
Seeing a wolf for the first time was one of my most memorable experiences. It was already August and I had just over a month left. I had seen four of the Denali Big Five (lynx, moose, Dall sheep, and grizzly bear) but was still missing the last one. I had been on the lookout for wolves from the start, but it’s when you aren’t looking for something at all that it seems to find you. I was assisting two people from Harpers Ferry while they were filming a new backcountry safety video. We had gotten up when it was still dark in order to capture the sunrise. In the middle of trying to shoot our footage, that’s when we saw it to our left. There it was, just standing there. It’s something that I’ll always remember. 

Denali Grizzly/NPS Photo by Lian Law

What’s the most exciting project you worked on during your time at Denali?
It’s hard to pick out the most exciting project because I had many opportunities to assist with photography and videography outside of my main Livestream duties. However, the most challenging and rewarding project that I worked on didn’t even take place in the park. Denali National Park was a co-sponsor of the American Alpine Club’s conference on Sustainable Summits. As part of this, I was sent to Golden, Colorado for a week to live stream three full days worth of presentations. At Denali, I often had the assistance of other people, especially the other SCA media intern, to help me set up, prepare beforehand, and operate the three cameras and other technical equipment. In Colorado, I had to do everything by myself. Broadcasting in real time, you have to be flexible, make quick decisions and roll with the punches. I had the opportunity to listen to various speakers including some of the most renowned climbers, land managers, and scientists in the international mountaineering community.

Lian’s photo of the full moon over Denali National Park was featured on Department of Interior’s Instagram

What’s the best thing about working for the Great Basin Institute at Joshua Tree?
I have always thought the best thing about working in national park areas is having access to the resource, whether on work time or off. Being at Joshua Tree National Park has been no different. What impresses me is how close the park is to Los Angeles and other large cities and yet you have this amazing night sky. I’ve been in remote areas before but this has been one of the few occasions I’ve taken the time to simply look up and appreciate it.

Lian volunteered as a dog walker for Denali’s sled dog kennels while she was interning at the park.

Why is it important for conservationists and conservation organizations to be on social media?
Social media has the ability to not just reach a new audience, but to engage hundreds or even thousands of people at a time. It can be an effective tool for providing information and spreading awareness. Ultimately, you hope that it inspires individuals to become “virtual” stewards and to take action in their own lives.


Below: Denali Caribou/NPS Photo by Lian Law