When it comes to picking a traveling companion, you can’t beat a camera. Whether you pack a massive bag of DSLRs or stick with the little camera tucked into your smartphone, the photographs you bring back from a trip will be your most impactful and lasting souvenirs.
Because photography is much more than simply grabbing snapshots on the run.
Six days in Tuscany
Join Andrea and Sabrina in their native country of Italy exploring visual storytelling and photographing the stunning Val d’Orcia in Tuscany.
As a travel retreat, the focus of this trip will be the experience itself. Andrea and Sabrina will teach different aspects of photographic storytelling.
Like Minded Connections
Experiencing the entire retreat in a small group will allow for highly personal, individual, and peer-to-peer feedback.
Only 6 spots available - Join us and improve your photography through storytelling
THE IMPORTANCE OF STORYTELLING
Photographically speaking, storytelling is being intentional about each picture you make, then looking at it critically to see if it fits the narrative, captures your experience of a place, and has the potential to enthrall your viewers, leaving them wanting for more.
In other words, documenting a trip is less about location photos and more about your journey. It’s using your camera to document your experience and emotions at a particular time and in a particular place. What truly tells your story are the personal views revealed in the details, the textures, and the colors.
Storytelling may seem intimidating, but it’s something that you already know how to do. We all tell stories every day. A friend asks, “How was your weekend?” and your answer is a story. Your colleague asks, “What happened to your bike?” and you launch into a story. You may not realize it, but you possess all the necessary tools to craft and deliver a compelling story.
The aim of this retreat is to discover how to create lasting photographs using a tried and tested system that puts the story at the heart of everything you do.
You’ll acquire the knowledge and skills you need to take great still images and put them together in a series to create a narrative around a theme, an experience, a place, an encounter, or anything else that interests or intrigues you.
WHAT WILL YOU DISCOVER
We created this 6-day Photo Storytelling Retreat to guide you through the process of how to create compelling visual stories that you will be proud to share with others.
We’ll start with the basics, going through the entire process, all the way from the concept to shooting, to equipment, editing, and image selection. Together, we will expose the essence of a great photograph. Then, we’ll examine the craft of storytelling, as it applies to photography, and how to put together a compelling narrative.
- You will be given an assignment for the duration of the retreat which will be reviewed with the group at the end of the trip. It’s a wonderful opportunity to master how to analyze a collection of images for a better understanding of when an image works in a story context or doesn’t.
- Tell stories visually, learning how to create a cohesive sequence of photos. Combining different moments and scenes.
- Composition and how to frame a scene in order to balance and arrange visual elements effectively.
- The camera & lenses as a medium for storytelling. With a different focal length, you can manipulate how the viewer perceives space and thus the relationship between objects.
- Outdoor sessions on learning how you can capture the essence of a place. Big vistas, details, people.
- Work with light. Understand how different types of light can affect the mood and the essence of an image. You’ll discover how to recognize a distinctive quality of light and work with it.
- Photo editing and Photo apps. How to transform your raw files straight out of the camera to finished images ready to be shared.
During the retreat, we will spend our days exploring and photographing some of the most iconic landscapes and villages of Val d’Orcia like the lovely Pienza, Pitigliano, Sorano, Crete Senesi, and other surrounding breathtaking views.
But the retreat experience goes beyond this with some unique extra activities tailored to work on growing your sensibility and aptitude for storytelling. Experiencing the entire retreat in a small group will allow for highly personal, individual, and peer-to-peer feedback.
Testimonials from our clients
Alex is one of the participants of the 2022 edition and a talented photographer from Germany who left us a very wholesome testimonial. We can’t explain how great it felt to read this. Thanks, Alex!
Some say if you want to earn money with photography, you should put down the camera and start teaching... this isn't Andrea & Sabrina at all! They are motivated by their passion for the craft and are in it with all their heart!
While (of course) the storytelling retreat features guided excursions, it is different from a regular photography workshop, instead, it is about the connective tissue in between your hero shots. Andrea & Sabrina introduce the concept and then gradually build upon it throughout the workshop, accommodating both inexperienced and seasoned shooters at the same time with ease.
The course material is an important aspect, but it is only half of the equation: Podere Trafonti, the base of operations is a fantastic experience in and of itself - the people, the food, the house, and its beautifully decorated rooms. In a mere few days, it has come to feel like a second home away from home. Combined with carefully planned day trips (including some insider locations off the beaten "Instagram path") it makes for a truly unforgettable experience.
A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE IN TUSCANY
As a travel retreat, the focus of this trip will be the experience itself.
We will spend 6 days at the exclusive Podere Trafonti, an idyllic Tuscan domain nestled in the rolling hills of Val d’Orcia with stunning views of Montepulciano and the Monte Amiata studded with centenary cypresses and surrounded by olive groves. Podere Trafonti practices sustainable hospitality and agriculture, in harmony with the natural environment, the territory, its inhabitants, and their culture.
We’ll enjoy breathtaking sunsets, the fresh hill air, eat tasty Italian specialties, made with home-grown and seasonal Tuscan products. We’ll also have the opportunity to visit some of our favorite local places for wine, cheese, and local products’ tasting.
Bernard and Antonella bought the decaying farm and 13.5 hectares of agricultural land and forest in 2015 and began to restore it. It took two years of arduous and passionate labor to resurrect it from its rubbles, but they always knew it would shine again with beauty.
They also planted 900 new olive trees to add to the 100 old ones on their property, as well as two dozen fruit trees. They set up a permaculture vegetable garden which produces an abundant crop of vegetables for the kitchen. And they started herbal and flower gardens around the domain’s buildings to attract insects and please the senses. In the spring of 2019, they installed their first beehives which yielded a delicious honey harvest at the end of summer.
+ WHAT IS INCLUDED
- All teaching sessions
- Photo editing session
- Local transportation to and from the locations
- 5 nights shared room
- Welcome drink
- Full board accommodation starting from the dinner of the first day, ending with the breakfast of the last day
- Wine tasting in a typical farmhouse
- Wood oven pizza party
- Honeybee safari and honey tasting
- A safe and healthy environment will be ensured
- NOT INCLUDED
- Travel costs to and from Podere Trafonti
- Alcoholic beverage (available but not included in the price)
- Tourist tax of €1 day/person (to be paid in cash at check out)
- Travel insurance (highly recommended)
- Tips, extras and any personal activities or adventures you choose to partake in outside of the itinerary
- Anything else not mentioned in the “What is included” section
WHAT'S ON THE ITINERARY?
DAY 1 - Friday, April 28th
- Arrive at the Podere late afternoon and check in to your room
- Get comfortable in the space and get to know everyone in a casual, laid-back environment enjoying coffee, tea, orange juice, and some snacks.
- Kick start the evening with a presentation on the retreat
- Explore the area around the Podere, and have dinner
DAY 2 - Saturday, April 29th
- Breakfast, coffee, and formal introductions
- Classroom lesson – Storytelling and Composition
- Special lunch at Podere
- After lunch photo session documenting a honeybee safari and honey tasting
- Heading out for the photography session at the sunset
- Dinner in a typical farmhouse
DAY 3 - Sunday, April 30th
- Sunrise session in the field
- Breakfast, coffee, and free time and relax at Podere Trafonti
- Green lunch
- Photo session exploring two beautiful local towns
- Sunrise session to capture the last light of the day in a picturesque town
- Dinner in a local restaurant
DAY 4 - Monday, May 1st
- Kick out the day off with a morning yoga session under the guidance of an expert teacher
- Classroom lesson – Photo Editing
- Lunch at Podere Trafonti
- Hit the ground running with a field session shoot, utilizing learnings from the previous days
- Visit of a local farmhouse with wine tasting
- Wood oven pizza party
DAY 5 - Thursday, May 2nd
- Sunrise session in the field to capture the misty rolling hills
- After breakfast at Podere, free time and relax
- Heading toward a lovely nearby town for lunch and photography
- Group critique of your images from the trip, and favorite portfolio shots
- Heading out into the field for the sunset photo session in some lovely locations
- Special dinner in Podere Trafonti
DAY 6 - Wednesday, May 3rd
- Enjoy breakfast at the Podere before checking out of your room
- Farewells and onto the next adventure
* Times and activities are subject to change due to scheduling considerations or weather conditions.
WHO IS IT FOR?
The art of storytelling in photography can be utilized by a wide range of photographers. Whether you’re an amateur or a photo enthusiast, this storytelling retreat experience is equally valuable for you.
We’re excited to take you on this journey, and we hope that you’ll join us in discovering how to use photography to create impactful narratives around themes and concepts that are meaningful to you.
THE VALUE OF THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE
- improve your creativity and motivation for photography
- exploring a variety of photographic genres that come into play in storytelling
- class lessons on composition and photo editing
- novel ways of thinking and seeing, stimulating new ideas, new ways of doing things, meeting new people with the same interests and the same enthusiasm that you do
- create connections and friendships
- being inspired and having fun while learning
- acquire new skills
- an opportunity to thoroughly understand, ask questions, get answers
Testimonials from our clients
Here is one more testimonial from Sherif, a beginner photographer from Switzerland with a great eye, and the Tuscany Retreat 2022 was his first photography experience in a group. This feedback is absolute music to our ears (or eyes in this case). Thanks, Sherif!
First, as a background, I am a beginner and it was my first time using a proper SLR to take photos during my first photography workshop in Tuscany, Podere Trafonti !!
Andrea and Sabrina with their exceptional professionalism and friendly and compassionate characters have navigated my novice capabilities through an amazing experience and learning process.
During this unforgettable 5 days storytelling workshop I was able to learn about my camera, the different setups and adjustments, and techniques of taking shots while understanding composition. In addition, I learned some editing techniques and how to plan and organize the different shots for storytelling.
Definitely, I was very lucky to have my first experience and workshop in photography with such great experienced, and fun guys. I am sure it will not be my last but just the start of many to follow if they put up and accept me in their coming ones 🙂
WHAT GEAR SHOULD I PLAN ON BRINGING?
The criteria for the kind of work we’ll be doing is a camera that can be operated completely manually to ensure we get the best exposure with interchangeable lenses allowing us to cover a range of focal lengths
In Tuscany, the 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens is the most needed lens for your shooting. We’ll often find ourselves shooting distant landscapes or abstracts, which a telephoto is ideal for. In Tuscany, photography is more about capturing a specific part of the surrounding landscape and less about capturing the whole landscape.
There will certainly be the occasion when a mid-range zoom in the 24-70mm (18-55mm on a crop sensor) or a wide-angle zoom in the 16-45mm is perfect to capture a wider-panoramic view and Tuscany towns.
To be shooting in low light (sunrise & sunset) a tripod is an absolutely essential piece of equipment. It should be stable enough to not only prevent camera shake but also protect your camera. Anyway, since we usually don’t have awful weather conditions in Tuscany, you don’t need a huge and heavy tripod.
A circular polarizer should really be in every photographer’s bag. You’ll be able to cut through the haze which will add detail to your shot.
ND filters are great for capturing moving clouds and long exposures.
This is an important accessory whose benefits shouldn’t be underestimated. This allows us to trip the camera shutter without touching the camera and significantly reduces the possibility of camera shake.
The morning fields are covered in dew. Casual shoes and jeans get wet quickly. It will be cool in the morning and a fleece jacket might well be useful.
If you dress with light boots, long pants, a T-shirt with a sweater, and a light jacket, you should be fine most of the time; it’ll never be really cold, and when it gets warmer, you can take off some layers.
Rain isn’t uncommon in Tuscany in spring, so make sure your clothes are waterproof.
When moving your camera gear for any length of time a backpack can really save your back. A good backpack, one with sturdy hip straps, can safely distribute the weight of your gear and really save you from aches, pains and potential injury. Bear in mind that you’ll often be putting it down in the wet grass as well so it should be water resistant.
We’ll be shooting RAW, and as part of the retreat will be dedicated to post-processing images a good RAW converter like Adobe Lightroom or Camera RAW is essential. Other converters like Capture One are also excellent. Adobe Photoshop is great for more advanced processing as it allows us to be much more subtle and creative in its use of layers.
If you have any questions about what to bring, don’t hesitate to contact us. A full packing list is provided on enrolling for the retreat.
Only 6 spots available - Join us and improve your photography through storytelling
Antonella lives at Podere Trafonti and manages the organic farm and guesthouse since 2018.
This move came after many years of working in social development and humanitarian aid around the world, among others, as chief spokesperson and head of public communication at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
To reserve your spot we do require a €1500 deposit. Please complete the form below for more information, or for any other questions you have about the retreat.