top of page

Through the Lens: Leygh's Photographic Odyssey in Panama

Leygh Allison

I met Leygh during my trip to Panama.  As I was catching some waves with my stand up paddle, being the only one on the spot that morning (hard to believe I know), I saw this shirtless, shoe less man, followed by his dog coming out of this cute little ocean beach house, grabbing his SUP and joining me on the spot to share the joy that mother nature was generously providing.

We started chatting instantly and we catched up almost every single day I spent in Playa Venao to exchange about our life, passions and simply on how just great it was to evolve and surf in that tropical paradise.

When I came up with the idea of creating the magazine to share stories of people out of the ordinary and living almost out of the “matrix”, Leygh immediately came to mind.

I hope you will enjoy reading his story as much as I had fun spending time with him and hearing about his life’s journey. 

From the frozen landscapes of Canada to the sun-soaked beaches of Panama, we will explore the motivations, challenges, and profound revelations that have shaped Leygh journey as a photographer living off his passion.

Travel Fit Mag: Could you please provide a concise introduction about yourself so that we can learn more about you? 

Leygh: My name is Leygh Allison. I was born in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. At age 23 after studying graphic design in Oshawa, Ontario I moved to Panama to become a full-time lifestyle photographer.

TFM: What are you doing for a living? 

L: Lifestyle Photographer. I also photograph weddings, spaces (homes, hotels, apartments), and documentaries. In the last year I did a training in Qigong and have become an instructor in the beach community where I live.

TFM: What country are you originally from and where do you currently reside? 

L: Originally from Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Currently based in Playa Venao, Los Santos, Panama.

TFM: How long have you been in your new country and what made you pick it? 

L: 11 years. I wanted to do photography all year long and this was very difficult in Canada due to weather during the winter time. I wanted to move somewhere where the weather is warm all year long with many different places in nature where I could shoot.

TFM: Living in a foreign country, what challenges do/ did you have to deal with (if any) and which strategies do/did you use to cope with it?

L: Learning a new language is not easy. In Panama, many people speak english so you have to be intentional about immersing yourself with Spanish speakers. 

Building a client base also took time and patience as well as a lot of social networking. I made friends with influential people and took their photograph in order to promote my work.

TFM: Can you share a challenging moment that ultimately led to personal growth and a deeper connection with your new environment?

L: When the covid pandemic arrived to Panama I took refuge in a small sustainable town in the jungle in Panama. I was quarantined with 35 other people from 18 different countries who were attending a music festival in Panama. 
We lived together and formed a small community for roughly 4 months.
I connected so much with the nature and with myself as an artist during this time. It was also a moment of deep transformation and personal growth.

TFM: What made you do the jump to move overseas? 

L: Beyond the weather I also wanted to learn a new language (Spanish) and experience the adventure of living somewhere foreign and new.

TFM: What effects has living in a different country had on your overall happiness and mindset? 

L: It has opened my mind to different cultures and new perspectives. 
It has presented me with many opportunities for business growth and personal transformation. I feel much happier, positive and engaged with life after moving to Panama.

TFM: In what ways do you stay connected to your home country while embracing the culture of your new surroundings?

L: I am not very connected to my home country Canada.
 I have not been there since 2019 however I will return this year to photograph my cousin's wedding. It will be good to see my extended family again after so long. 
My immediate family (father, mother and sister) have all moved to Panama after visiting me here and enjoying it so much. 

They are much happier living here as well - they are more connected to the nature, enjoying living outdoors and have made many new friends.

TFM: Have you ever had a meaningful experience connecting with local people while living abroad?

L: Absolutely. I have had many different experiences with Panamanians - learning how to surf, adventures in nature and romantic relationships. I have also had the opportunity to photograph their meaningful moments such as weddings, family events and couple sessions.

TFM: Does anyone or anything altered your outlook on life, made a deep impact, or changed your way of thinking?

L: Moving to Latin America (and especially a beach town) definitely helps you embrace a new pace of life. change your pace of life. 

I love to listen to different spiritual teachers who remind me of the truth within myself. 
After studying Qigong I feel drawn to the teaching from Master Shi Heng Yi of the Shaolin Temple Europe.

TFM: What are your top five favorite places to visit in your new country and why?

L: Cambutal is my favourite place to visit and photograph because it has such a wild and adventurous feeling.

- Boca Chica in Chiriqui is so beautiful - it feels like you're in Thailand with none of the tourists. 

- Guna Yala (San Blas) is a tropical paradise and home to the Guna indigenous people. I had the honor to visit their islands and document their culture. 

- El Valle de Antón is a town in the middle of a volcano crater with many incredible hikes. 

- Bluff beach in Bocas del Toro is a brown sand paradise - it was one of my favourite places to practice Qigong.

TFM: Can you briefly list five ways that moving abroad has positively affected your life, and would you recommend others to do it too?

L: Learning a new language is very rewarding. "Starting over" in a sense allows you to explore who you really are as a person. A warmer climate promotes a more healthy and outdoor lifestyle. The adventure, exportation and connection to nature. Opening yourself to new possibilities, experiences and mindsets.

TFM: Can you please share a piece of advice for expats on embracing the unknown and finding joy in the journey of building a new life abroad?

L: Stay in the present moment and observe the opportunities in front of you. Follow your heart, your passion and your intuition - it will lead you to your highest joy and fullest expression.

TFM: Thank you very much for your time and for sharing your inspirational story Leygh, we wish you all the best for the future!

For those seeking an exceptional photographer in Panama and eager to explore Leygh's portfolio while staying updated on his adventures, connect with him through his social media channel.

Instagram: Leyghphoto

Some of Leygh’s amazing work


bottom of page