A Picture Paints a Thousand Words in Tuscany
By Donnie Sexton
I have restless, impatient bones if I’m housebound for too long. For me, Instagram posts tend to generate travel dreams worthy of throwing down cash for a plane ticket. Such was the case with the images of Albert Dros, a professional photographer from the Netherlands.
His dreamy, almost surreal landscapes were alluring. I discovered he was leading a May landscape workshop in Tuscany. Say no more! A call to a fellow photographer friend, and within a few hours, we signed up for the workshop and booked flights. A second pro photographer, Bruno Pasini from northern Italy, joined our group of six participants.
Photo Tours in Tuscany
There is a substantial difference between a photo tour and a photography workshop. A photo tour is usually led by a photography expert, familiar with the location. The itinerary is designed to showcase the best of a city, region, or country. Participants are taken to bucket list locations for both sightseeing and photography opportunities. There are no formal instruction or photo critiques. Typically the tour is bundled with lodging, meals, and transportation.
Photography Workshops in Tuscany
With photography workshops, the professional photographers (or at least you hope they are) are there to provide formal instruction, mixed with photo critiques, and typically include sessions in editing, techniques, post-processing, etc. The instructors tend to be familiar with most of the popular camera models, which can be helpful with equipment issues.
The pros know the locations, and arrange to have the students in place at optimal times for getting great shots. These workshops are also bundled with lodging, meals, and transportation. If you’re a serious photographer, or a newbie hoping to learn and improve your camera skills, a photography workshop is the way to go.
My week-long photography workshop had us landing in Rome. Albert and Bruno (the boys) met our group at the airport. We divided into two vehicles and headed out on a three-hour drive to Agriturismo Bonello, a historical stone farmhouse that would be our home base for the week. The workshop focused on a region in the southern part of Tuscany, known as Val d’Orica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tuscany’s Killer Landscapes
The Tuscan landscape is a photographer’s dream. Every dip and curve on the highway yielded fantastic photo ops. Italian villas, orchards, vineyards, olive groves, fields of poppies, rolling hills the colors of emeralds, and gravel roads lined with Cyprus trees begged to be photographed. Mixed in with the endless landscapes were a few visits to quaint villages where we had lunch or dinner. Here, we re-focused on architectural details.
The boys were determined we weren’t going to miss anything, starting at 4:30 am when we ventured out for sunrise, with the days ending well after sunset, followed by a late-night dinner. We had a few breaks during the day for breakfast and lunch and an hour or two in the afternoon to recharge our camera batteries and grab a cat nap. It became apparent that sleep was the least essential component of the day. I recall most nights being too dang tired to brush my teeth.
Out in the fields or villages, Bruno and Albert stayed on us like hawks on a road kill. They continually checked our compositions, suggested ways to frame the subjects, demonstrated how they would shoot a scene, and most importantly, infused us with their
endless enthusiasm to keep us producing. One morning when the fog rolled in, the boys were giddy with excitement about this weather element, which added a new dimension to the photo options.
Exhausting days and sleep-deprived nights. Was it worth it? Absolutely!