We’re Wayde Carroll and Matt Estrada, two professional photographers who met on one of Wayde’s photo tours.
We discovered that we’re like-minded in our approach to photography travel, and wanted to expand our reach to exciting new destinations, so we formed Lightminded Photo Tours.
Small-group photo tours for people with a passion for photography, nature, and culture
All experience levels welcome
We craft small group tours for travelers who want to improve their photography skills through immersive experiences in some of the world’s most vibrant cultures and beautiful ecosystems. We go beyond a traditional travel experience by building strong local relationships and then connecting you with living, breathing communities and natural areas. We make sure you check off all the local must-sees, but we know that the experiences you’ll remember for the rest of your life are the ones that are unique, authentic, and reveal the hidden spirit and true beauty of the places we visit.
Travelers with all levels of photography experience are welcome on our tours. Our professional photographers stay with you in the field to offer guidance on technique, composition, lighting, post processing, and more. We actively seek opportunities for wildlife, landscape, portrait, street, architecture, night, macro, and underwater photography.
If you’re brand new to photography, we’ll help you get to know your camera and focus on the basics of taking great photos. If you’re more advanced, we’ll tailor our approach to your skill level and interests. We can offer collaborative feedback, share tips, and show specific examples of concepts that have worked for us. It’s our goal for you to head home with incredible memories and stunning photos from your dream destination.
Meet Our Team
Principal and Photography Instructor
Wayde Carroll is an award-winning freelance imagemaker based in Anchorage, Alaska. For the past 14 years he’s been leading photography tours and workshops in Alaska and around the globe for several major tour companies and now for Lightminded Photo Tours. His easy-going style, humor, dedication, patience, and attention to detail have garnered him loyal clients who, regardless of the many photo tour options, choose to travel with him repeatedly. Wayde is a full-time shooter whose body of work spans a multitude of major projects, including portraits of Native Alaskans throughout bush Alaska, several Iditarods, and promotional photography for the Alaska Marine Highway System, Visit Anchorage, and visitors bureaus throughout Alaska and California. His images have graced magazine covers, buses, and billboards. His work has represented the State of Alaska’s 40th anniversary and adorned the walls of the California State Capitol—several of his images are on permanent display at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Wayde takes great pleasure in sharing his photography expertise and making sure that every client feels comfortable and goes home with expanded knowledge, rich experiences, and wonderful images. Seeing clients reach that “Ah ha!” moment as they learn is his greatest reward.
Principal and Photography Instructor
Matt Estrada is an accomplished wildlife, landscape, and underwater photographer whose passion for photography is matched by his passion for teaching. In addition to guiding for Lightminded Photo Tours, he conducts photography classes and workshops in his hometown of Sacramento. Matt’s photography portfolio includes work from more than 35 countries, and his knowledge of both field and post-processing techniques is extensive. Matt loves to help people develop their own technical skills as well as their own personal style. Ensuring that clients go home with great images to match their memories of rich cultural and natural experiences is his ultimate goal in delivering an unforgettable travel experience. Matt is also an active SSI Advanced Open Water Scuba Diving Instructor, with a specialized interest in underwater photography. He shoots with a Nikon D850 and a Nikon D500, an underwater camera housing from Nauticam, Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobes, and both macro and wide-angle setups. But on the road, you won’t find Matt only behind the lens—he loves a good dance party, delicious food, and the occasional karaoke night.
Wildlife and Culture Guide: Costa Rica
Marco has been introducing travelers, photographers, and adventure seekers to Costa Rica for more than 20 years. He has an advanced diploma from the Costa Rica North American Culture Center and continues to take courses and participate in studies in many different areas. His vast knowledge of birds, plants, animals, history, culture, and photography—coupled with his sparkling wit, infectious laughter, and unbridled passion for his home country—make our clients fall in love with Costa Rica. They go home with incredible photos and many happy memories. Marco has led tours for several travel companies, including REI, and he’s consistently ranked as a traveler favorite.
Superpower: Can imitate any bird sound, including a Montezuma oropendola. It’s pretty incredible.
Annie O'Dea Hestbeck
Music and Culture Guide: Ireland
The effervescent Annie O’Dea Hestbeck, a native of County Clare, Ireland, is a driving force in Northern California’s Celtic music scene and host of a weekly Celtic music radio show. Annie regularly returns to her homeland and is a special addition to our Emerald Isle explorations. Her enthusiasm for all things Irish and her vast knowledge of traditional Irish music, coupled with her generous an adventurous spirit make our Ireland Photo Exploration a special trip indeed. Sláinte!
Superpower: Knows literally everyone in Ireland.
Organizer and Guide: France
Karen is a lifelong student of French language and culture. A comparative literature graduate of Brown University, Karen lived in France for one year and has returned frequently ever since. Having completed a career as a communications attorney and raised two children, Karen is now a full-time traveler who focuses on exploring France through its diverse regions. Karen especially enjoys photography, cooking, music, and hiking. Her itinerary for Southwest France evolved through repeated visits to the region beginning in 2015, where she’s been inspired by its natural beauty, rich gastronomy, and unique culture. She loves to introduce newcomers to her second country, la belle France.
Organizer and Guide: Japan
Miyu graduated from Kyoto University of Art with a bachelor’s degree in modern and conceptional art, studied Sho (Japanese calligraphy) under the master calligraphist Makiko Kan in Tokyo. Miyu practices and teaches Sho and enjoys creating calligraphy art for private collection and commercial art projects. Her work has been sold as prints and cards nationwide in the United States. Her passion for the healing arts and calligraphy has blossomed into many public calligraphy art performances.
Miyu was the executive trip coordinator, guide and translator for the popular tour company Journeys East for 10 years prior to establishing her own custom tour operation, Sacred Japan. She has been leading small groups on unique, custom designed trips to Japan more than 19 years.
Guide: Chile 2022
Originally from the Chilean capital of Santiago, Matias has been a nature enthusiast his entire life. He worked for six years at El Colorado, overseeing ski tourism in the mountains. In 2004 he relocated to Chilean Patagonia to work as a guide and has since settled in Punta Arenas, where enjoys the outdoor life and has developed an avid interest in birdwatching. He’s worked guiding trips to King George Island in Antarctica, as part of a company that offers flights and excursions to the remote island. Between 2008 and 2013 he worked with an American company as a local guide and program director, managing groups that traveled to destinations such as Buenos Aires, Brazil, the Chilean Lake District, as well as both Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia. Matias has a keen interest in photography (he studied graphic design in college), and he participates in the ecological nonprofit organizations that help take care of the local ecosystems. He often attends courses offered by local universities in order to expand his knowledge about biodiversity, guiding, and conservation.