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

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

“The hot springs in Yellowstone are such an otherworldly sight that seeing them in person is really the only way to fully appreciate them–both the vivid colors and the scale. Being able to view them from a distance (there are a few trails that do this versus walking around and over them) helps to give the power to these natural phenomena that they deserve in photo form. It’s worth hiking the extra 40 minutes to see the springs from above. I’ve done this while shooting photos of Overland’s Yellowstone Teton Adventure groups.”

“As with the hot springs, the wildlife in Yellowstone is something that took seeing in person to fully appreciate. The bison especially are such majestic and powerful creatures which have surprisingly expressive eyes. When I was with a Yellowstone Teton Explorer group I used a telephoto lens to get a good look at them since getting close in person is both illegal and foolish.”

“This photo was shot after a rowdy thunderstorm which hit right at dinner time in the backcountry. The post-storm sky was stunning and the leaders decided to take a short hike with the students to the top of a nearby hill to get the full scene–one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen while on an Overland trip.”

“The action shots on Overland trips are some of my favorite to get and are also the most fleeting. This was shot on the most exciting part of a four-day kayak trip on Yellowstone Teton Explorer in a section of river that was always changing. Water, by nature, is never still and therefore very hard to anticipate in a composition. This one worked beautifully with a water arc framing the student’s determination.”

“Natural expressions are always what I am after in shots of Overland students and often these happen either at camp or at the pinnacle of a challenging day– and these big days come on all of the Yellowstone trips, from Yellowstone Teton Adventure to Teton Challenge. This photo was taken at the top of the group’s challenge hike. While it’s not a celebratory photo, all three kids have a maturity and comfort about them that often comes from accomplishing a physical challenge. The background also shows the impressive scale of Yellowstone and the reason for the pride they feel inside and show on their faces.”

Luke Madden Biography

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.

Free Download

How To Choose A Summer Adventure For Your Child

Get first-hand insights into what you should look for when choosing the next summer travel adventure for your child.



    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.

Apply for Trip

Apply for trip

Info Sessions

info sessions