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

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

I took this drone shot on my drive from landing in Barcelona to one of the small mountain villages where Pyrenees Expedition was staying. Villages like this one popped up every few miles along my route and each one was uniquely photogenic. Most of them were centered around a church made of faded brick and stone with a spire standing at the highest point in town. It feels like every time I look at one of these shots of a village I see something new in the textures and shapes.

This shot was from the longest day I spent with Pyrenees Expedition, and by far the hardest. The hot dry air (heat wave of summer 2023) and the steep inclines in the Pyrenees had me spent by lunch time. Luckily, lunch was at this mountain hut and was made by the folks who ran it. To this day, it is one of the best lunches I’ve had on an Overland trip in one of the most scenic locations. Coming across these huts which are very common along some of Overland’s European routes (in Switzerland there’s Alpine Explorer and Alpine Challenge, in Norway there’s Norway Explorer and Norway Expedition, and in Iceland there’s Iceland Explorer and Iceland Expedition) always feels a bit like reaching an oasis after a demanding day on the trail.

The hikes that I did with the Language & Hiking Spain trip were less challenging than those with Pyrenees Expedition, but no less scenic. This shot was taken after a night spent in a hut, so we were well fed and well rested. I couldn’t see the full landscape until I had the drone in the air, and I was thrilled with my timing. I knew we were heading toward a lake but I hadn’t seen how picturesque it was, surrounded by pointed peaks lit by the morning sun.

I love photos that show an entire hiking route below you. The typical observer might not be able to tell, but the view in this photo travels all the way down to where the hike started. The view combined with the jagged rock outcroppings is a classic representation of the landscape this Pyrenees Expedition group was hiking through on a daily basis.

Overland meals – one of the most important parts of the trip. It is a time for the group to come together and share sustenance that enables them to do the work of exploring every day. This was the meal served at the hut from the first photo in this series. All of us were surprised at the amount of food that came out and, frankly, how beautiful it was. I think I was smiling as much as the students when I dove into this meal.

Luke Madden has been photographing for Overland since the role was created in 2010. 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 and around the world to capture the Overland experience. 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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