How Does A Professional Photographer Tell A Story? Overland’s Luke Madden in the Pacific Northwest

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

This was taken on a Northwest Explorer group’s challenge hike, and I didn’t know anything about the summit when we started hiking. The trail took a while to get rocky, but when the trees disappeared and we started hiking on snow, I could see we had something spectacular coming up. I used a drone to capture this image since there was so little space to stand at the top. 

Kayaking — here I am with a Northwest Expedition group — has always been something I enjoy photographing, through it remains one of the more difficult activities to capture given the constant movement of the boats, water, and background. I was shooting from a motorboat for this one, which made it possible to get all the students to face me. Their excitement at having just done their first channel crossing speaks for itself.

River crossings are common on Overland trips, whether small streams on Berkshire Adventure or deeper water on Alaska Expedition. This one was somewhere in between where the students still need to pay attention and check their footing. Overland leaders always use water crossings to engage in teachable moments, and the focus of the students at these times usually makes for a good image. 

Something about this Northwest Explorer landscape paired with a group of hikers makes me think of paintings like Homer’s Two Guides. As trees give way to views of mountains, the scale of the landscape becomes exponentially more vast and detailed. The group looks both determined and unhurried just like the two figures in the Homer painting.

While this isn’t a typical Overland photo, it is a great example of the wild locations (this photo was taken on Northwest Expedition) and sights you stumble upon while hiking with groups. I had no idea this old fire lookout would be at the top, and couldn’t even tell what it was until I started talking to one of the people renting a bed for the night. If you make the hike up, you can stay here and watch the sun rise above one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the country.

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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