How Does A Professional Photographer Tell A Story? Luke Madden Captures The Landscape

In this post, we’ve asked professional photographer, Luke Madden, to tell us a bit about his visual storytelling. For anyone who aspires to be a professional photographer, these photos and comments can show you how a seasoned pro does it.

Capturing Landscapes: When it comes to telling the Overland story through imagery, the strongest tools I have to work with (besides the students, of course) are the locations. Overland explores some of the most beautiful and biggest (for lack of a better word) landscapes in the world. Visually anchoring subjects in these landscapes can help to highlight the adventure and wonder of an Overland trip.

Kayaking shots are hard to line up while drifting around on the water. I knew I needed to show this village behind these Norway Explorer kayakers, and I needed to show both of their faces, while also not altering their path toward camp. Instead of creating a shot farther away that would highlight the landscape more than the students, I made sure their faces were the clear subject with the spectacular landscape being secondary but impossible to miss. 

The views from the summit are not always what you see on the Overland website. Fog and unpredictable weather are always a possibility when you get close to the top, and this is especially true on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Luckily this shot was taken on the way down the mountain after a successful hike up with clear skies. This may not be a typical Overland image, but I love how atmospheric it is – moments like this make something as simple as a day hike look otherworldly.

The quintessential New England red barn. Seeing this style of barn against the green hills of Western Massachusetts always transports me immediately to my childhood in Williamstown. I know it’s recognizable for many other folks too, so whenever I get the chance to place Overland students in front of one, I try to make it happen. For Service & Hiking New England this photo tells the story of both the scenery of the trip and the service work at Caretaker Farm.

Yellowstone usually calls forth images of bison and hot springs. Overland’s Yellowstone Teton Adventure trips do a great job of leaving the well-trodden paths you see on social media and exploring the vast landscape the region has on offer. When you can get high enough to see the Yellowstone’s giant valleys and distant mountains, especially around sunset, it gives you an entirely new perspective on Yellowstone.

Luke has been photographing for Overland since the role was created around 2010/11. Working with the Overland team, the role of Overland photographer has evolved into a critical means of sharing the Overland story with families, leaders, and the outdoor community. Luke has traveled across the country, to the Virgin Islands and Costa Rica, and throughout Europe to capture the experience of Overland’s students. During the rest of the year, Luke lives in Maine and does freelance work for a number of nonprofits which specialize in education and research/conservation.

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    Tom Costley

    When Tom Costley founded Overland in 1984, he sought to create experiences for young people that were fun, where new friendships could grow, where natural beauty was embraced, where there were real and varied challenges, and where Overland’s students would achieve something of importance to them. Overland’s focus on small groups, carefully crafted trips, and superlative leadership has made it a leader in the summer camp world. Overland’s commitment to excellence in everything it does has led to its success: over the past four decades, Overland has served 40,000 students and 5,000 trip leaders. Tom writes about the outdoors and travel from Williamstown, Massachusetts.

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