Chasing the Light

Our back-of-the-napkin story

“So, what are you working on now?” Wayde asked me, as we each pulled up a chair in the restaurant bar adjacent to the garden of our hotel in Costa Rica. It was the last night of my second photography tour with him.

“Well,” I answered a bit nervously, “I’ve been thinking of starting photography workshops and tours myself,” not wanting to sound like a would-be competitor out to steal trade secrets or clients from him.

“Wow, that’s great, Matt!” Wayde said. I felt myself relax a bit. “Maybe in the future you and I could work together,” he continued.

It was March of 2018, and for the past year I’d been backpacking throughout North and South America and parts of Africa. I had plans to continue through Europe, Asia, and Australia, practicing photography every day and exploring opportunities to turn the passion into a profession.

Wayde had been operating photo tours successfully for several years and had a strong and loyal customer base, but he told me he hadn’t had as much time as he’d like to add new tours and implement new ideas.

We raised our glasses to toast, “¡Saludos!”, and agreed to stay in touch.

Rewind nine months

“Matt, you’re running in the wrong direction!” Wayde said, as I ran down the hill as fast as I could. “Let’s go!” he shouted, pointing back up the hill with a smile, camera and tripod in hand.

“Be right there!” I answered, “Just grabbing something from my cabin.”

On this particularly clear summer night at Camp Denali in Denali National Park, the sunset was just beginning and soon the tallest mountain in North America would be covered in alpenglow. From what I’d seen of Denali National Park so far I knew I did not want to miss this, but I needed the right tool for the job. I popped into my cabin, grabbed my wide-angle lens, and darted back up the hill as fast as I could.

The light that night was nothing short of spectacular. Watching that sunset illuminate Denali and the entire Alaska range in alpenglow is still one of my favorite travel memories of all time. And with Wayde’s help, I got some amazing shots that night which I’ll have forever.

That was the first time I’d joined a tour that was designed specifically for photographers. The trip was a real eye-opener. Even though I was fairly adept with my camera, I saw immediate improvements in my results from tips and techniques that Wayde offered as we moved along.

I’d also made a new friend in Wayde, who said to me on the bus ride out of Camp Denali, “You know, I think you could do this professionally if you really wanted to.” I smiled and thanked him for the unexpected compliment, and as I looked out the window admiring the beautiful summertime tundra, the gears began to turn.

Fast forward to today

Wayde and I did stay in contact, and realized over several conversations that we were like-minded about the kinds of things we could bring to the table with a new company—a company focused on offering the same things that we enjoyed about photography travel: the genuine discovery of something new, the connection with nature and people from different parts of the world, and the heartfelt truth of the places we visit.

And Lightminded Photo Tours was born.

We’re excited to be leading five tours this year, and have plans for some new ones in 2020. Please browse our new website, and reach out to us if you have any questions. We look forward to traveling with you!

We think we’re just getting started with something big, but we certainly couldn’t have done it alone, and we appreciate all the help from friends and family who’ve become equally excited for our new venture. From Laura Hamel, who has stepped in as our technology consultant, webmaster, and copyeditor, to the many friends who’ve helped us design and lead our tours including Pablo Rincci, Helen Davies, Miyu Tamamura, Annie O’Dea Hestbeck, and Marco Fallas, to still others like Mike Anderson and Vickie Hunt who’ve provided legal and accounting consultation, we owe you each a huge debt of gratitude!