Photographer Captures the Lives of People Who Often Call Walmart Parking Lots Home


Photographer Nolan Conway has a gift for finding and photographing people that you or I might never think twice about pointing a camera at. His series of the unique people he ran into at McDonald’s took him to 50 McDonald’s in 22 states, and garnered quite a bit of press attention.

While his newest series isn’t taking him all over the country, it again captures a subculture that doesn’t really get any attention: people who call Walmart parking lots home.

For Nolan, this project (called Waking Up at Walmart) began with a lot of rejection when he tried to photograph the long-term residents of a Walmart in an undisclosed city during winter. It wasn’t until he got to Flagstaff, AZ, where the city’s two Walmarts are known for harboring many of these modern-day nomads, that the series actually took off.

From J.D. Gilkey, who sold his family home to drive around researching his genealogy, to retiree Leroy Morris and his dog Maggie, who spend every summer in the Flagstaff Walmart parking lots, Nolan has met a some interesting people along the way.

Here are a few of the photographs from the series:











To see the full series and learn more about each of the people pictured above, head over to Conway’s website. And if you like this kind of documentary photography, be sure to check out his Happy Meals series as well.

(via Wired)

Image credits: Photographs by Nolan Conway and used with permission

  • Nicholas Hrycun

    That is such White Guy Photography……………. Other’ing through art. Terrible……

  • JOey

    Other’ing through art? what does that mean? forgive my ignorance.

  • Mikey

    Yeah! It would only be ok if he slept in his car while photographing, and all the white people who look at it sleep in Walmart parking lots as a requirement.

  • Stan B.

    Great essay! This is something that should be in Nat Geo, and FOX ‘News’ and every print and electronic media outlet imaginable in the USA and elsewhere.

    As for those who insist on conflating this work with a more recent post, all you’re doing is proving and accentuating how: you both totally misconstrued its basic premise, and how little you know of history (photographic and otherwise).

    When confronted with one’s own ignorance, most will double down on the safety and comfort of their predisposed prejudices, a brave ‘minority’ (dang, there’s that word again) will challenge themselves to research and rethink things anew. Guess which option creativity favors… Hhmmm?

    But hey- don’t let me stop anyone from prattling along…

  • Robert Mark

    Didn’t we learn yesterday that this kind of photography is against the rules?

  • Norshan Nusi

    Quite an eye opener :O

  • tubetoprocker

    Great photography and subject. i love it.

  • tastrong61

    No, what we learned is that there are people out there that will make anything into a racial issue. Usually they’re thin skinned jealous unsuccessful non creative types. Envious that someone came up with the idea and executed on it before they did.

  • tastrong61

    What a ridiculous, offensive, and racist statement. What about the black street photographer who lives in the upper west side but walks around Harlem and captures lifestyle images as a documentary? Is that “black guy” photography or is it still “white guy” photography because only “white guys” would bother to capture some part of Americana? Documentary/ Jounralistic image making has been around longer than photography… but I’m sure it was only white guys carving in stone and painting on walls.

  • Nicholas Hrycun

    You are right. You missed the other post the other day. Periods on the internet are for sarcasm. That is why there are a lot of periods.

  • Raymond Parker

    LOL! Nicholas. Beat me to it.

  • drwitchdoctor

    I bet “Other’ing” sounded smarter in your own head than it does to other people, Nicholas.

  • Nicholas Hrycun

    You clearly have never taken a poli sci class or psychology class.

  • Anthony

    Actually, othering is a real concept in colonial theory.

  • Stan B.

    The “envious, thin skinned, unsuccessful types” are those insisting on dragging yesterday’s post here… instead of directly discussing Mr. Conway’s thought provoking essay.

  • dudung10

    agreed. the absence of a genuine connection between the shooter and the subject is very onvious. it seems like he decided on ‘documenting’ these people’s lifestyle that one sunday afternoon at his favorite starbucks

  • Nicholas Hrycun

    I actually really like this guys work. I think it shows an entirely different culture than I am exposed too. I suppose I should make fun of an article that is from yesterday, because people that have not read it will not get the irony of this article compared to the previous opinion piece from yesterday that I thought was ridiculous.

  • Christian DeBaun

    Well done Nolan Conway.

    People might laugh at Wal-Mart, but it has an enormous impact on our society and culture. 127 million people visit a Wal-mart every week (more than a third of our population) which averages out to just over 18 million people a day. The total amount of money spent at Wal-Mart every hour of every day, is $36,000,000.

  • Stan B.

    And let’s not forget the millions that Walmart has cost the American taxpayer in the form of healthcare they haven’t supplied, and the food stamps many of their workers must receive in order to survive on the pittance that is a Walmart salary.

  • drwitchdoctor

    I’m familiar with the term, although it’s rooted in philosophy and sociology, especially the work of Foucault and Hegel. Your improper usage of the apostrophe is the reason I used quotation.
    Regardless, it’s a shallow observation. Is the photographer working from a position of superiority? In which way is he depicting these other people as “The Other?” How is he “colonizing” these people?

  • drwitchdoctor

    Not in a long time, apparently. Heh.

  • Anthony

    “Your improper usage of the apostrophe is the reason I used quotation.”

    That awkward moment when I didn’t use any apostrophe…

  • whitehotphoenix

    This is a fantastic series. Lots of truth here.

  • sonny

    And yet their prices allow the poor to buy things they could not afford anywhere else. So GTFO.

  • Stan B.

    That’s why their own working poor (ie- Walmart employees) can’t afford health care and have to rely on food stamps! If anything, Walmart helps sustain and perpetuate poverty.

    They are as much saviors to the poor, as you are the champion of logic…