How Does A Professional Photographer Tell A Story? Overland’s Luke Madden in Iceland

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

I love Iceland – perhaps more than anywhere else I’ve traveled. I had only been in the winter before spending time with this Iceland Explorer group, so seeing the summer colors made it an entirely different experience (though I still did have to wear a down jacket at night). This hike literally started in running water after a couple days of straight rain, so my energy and drive was somewhat diminished. That changed quickly as the skies cleared and the views were exposed. There’s very little vegetation with any height in Iceland which means you often have 360 degree views wherever you happen to be. 

This shot is from the same hike (on Iceland Explorer) looking in the other direction. We hiked along a glacier almost the entire time and had lunch at this view point. I hadn’t seen a glacier with such an expansive path before and there was something strangely comforting about hiking so close to it the entire day.

This is one of my all time favorite landscape photos from Iceland Expedition. As I edited it, it almost felt like I could see the earth moving. It shows how jagged and powerful the terrain of Iceland is and how the volcanic activity has shaped an entire country. The color gradients in Iceland in the summer are a beautiful combination of blues and greens and yellows against this vivid black volcanic rock. And hiking away from tourist sites means you have the entire landscape to yourself much of the time.

The classic Overland pointing shot. I’ve captured photos of leaders pointing everywhere from the Mojave Desert to the Swiss Alps. It’s a classic shot for a reason – leaders are excited to be doing what they’re doing and to share that with their students. During leader training, they speak with past leaders of the trip as well as the trip planners to get as much knowledge about the routes and the region as they can in a couple short weeks. Often times leaders will be experiencing the landscape with eyes and perspectives as fresh as the students.

Another shot that highlights the other-worldly features of the Icelandic landscape (taken on Iceland Expedition). I’m used to seeing shelfs like this in the American southwest in the desert, and seeing something like this covered in green looking out over a series of rivers and inlets was an entirely new experience. A telephoto lens can compact a scene like this making the trail look like it just disappears over the edge.

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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