Spain 2011 ~ The Lovegrove workshop ~ part 1

Oct 30, 2011 | Flash, Location | 23 comments

Where do I start? This event was always a highlight on my 2011 calendar and it didn’t disappoint. Shooting and teaching alongside my friend and fellow expert photographer Martin Hill is always a delight. Working with fab models Katy McGee and Maca Serano made our vision of life so beautiful too. All we needed was a great set of locations, a bit of sunshine, delegates who like to party and we were on it.

1C. I found a Stop sign in the undergrowth and I used it to add a graphical element to this sassy shot of Maca.

Blaise, my PA came out to Spain with us and performed all organising duties as well as providing us with lunch on location each day. With the organising taken care of it was easy to get passionate about the photography. Martin was set with the task of teaching and leading the group with the ‘big picture’ while I opted for texture and beauty details. We often swapped roles but the big location shots from day 1 will be in Martin’s set of pictures that I will post when he gets back from his wedding shoot in India. For now I give you 40 of my shots from day 1

2F. A simple beauty lighting shot of Katy was my first set up of the day.

Our kit list:

3 Canon Speedlights rigged on Gemini brackets connected to Pocket Wizard Flexs via cable
1 Elinchrom Ranger with a Pocket Wizard Plus 2 as a receiver so it could be used together with the Speedlights if required
8 Pocket Wizard transmitters of various types used in classic non TTL mode so that Nikon, Canon and Fuji shooters can all trigger all the flashes
4 Lighting stands
1 Lovegrove Avenger boom arm
1 Silver umbrella
1 Lastolite Ezybox with Quadra adapter and a fabric grid

Damien’s camera kit: Fuji X100 fixed lens compact, Canon 5D mk2 SLR with 21mm Zeiss f/2.8, 50mm Canon f/1.2 and 100mm Canon f/2.8L macro lenses

[For the purposes of this post an ‘F’ after the picture number indicates that it was taken on my Fuji X100 camera and a ‘C’ after the picture number indicates that it was taken with my Canon 5D mk2.]

3F. A tighter higher viewpoint is easy to achieve with the live view shoot system of the Fuji X100.

4F. Exactly half of all my pictures on this trip were taken with the Fuji X100. Katy is stunningly beautiful and connects with my camera so intimately.

The locations:

An abandoned monastery at a secret location near Murcia in southern Spain
Mine workings and industrial buildings near La Union in southern Spain

5F. We had fun in the Chapel. I’ve yet to see any of Martin’s shots from this area but I do know he used flash for some of them. This was taken with natural light with my Fuji set to 1600 ISO, f/2 and 1/20th of a second. – It was dark but amazing. The Fuji lens is tack sharp wide open at f/2 and the camera has image stabilisation too. I shot this and all the next few images hand held. [Click on the image to see it at 100% as a compressed jpeg



8F. An amazing location

9C. Shot on my 100mm lens with my 5Dmk2 on a monopod.


11F. It was great to get out into the sun for a bit. Same set up as shot 1C. but taken on my Fuji.

I’ve kept all my shots in straight colour or monochrome. The colour harmonies in Spain are amazing without the need for Photoshop to shift them around. I shot the Fuji in monochrome but because it was recording in RAW I accessed the colour image in Lightroom.

12F. On the upper level of the monastery above the quad there is a walkway with fabulous ‘lived in’ plaster. The place has the odd crack or two so we had to take care.

13F. I love posing Katy as she can deliver fabulous line shape and form to compliment the texture of our location

14F. Lit with the light from a window.



17F. The floor was a bit bendy here but we did check out the props below before we started shooting.

18C. Our next session took us to the old mill building. I lit this shot with the Elinchrom Quadra in a Lastolite Ezybox fitted with a grid modifier.

19C. Lighting as above.

20C. Natural light. I loved the ‘Annabel Blue’ doors.

21C. Everywhere I looked was a picture waiting to be taken. I love shooting environmental portraits that allow your eyes to wander and your mind to contemplate the thoughts of the subject.

22C. I lit Katy with the Quadra in an Ezybox.

23F. Taken on the Fuji using at f/2 in Aperture priority mode with +2 stops of compensation.

I provided the wedding dress from our training stock and Katy & Maca did their own make up. The rest of the clothes were the models own. Blaise kept us fed and watered with supplies brought in from the local supermarket.

24C. Whilst some delegates were shooting Katy from inside the rest were shooting from the outside. With small delegate groups (6 or under)  it is easy for everyone to get all the shots and to experiment with different angles and viewpoints too.

25C.We swapped the groups over every 45 minutes or so in order to allow everyone to shoot the same images with Martin and myself. We repeated the set ups for each group. This was the same set up as in shot number 2 only this time I used my 100mm lens on my Canon 5Dmk2.


27C. I lit Katy with the Quadra in an Ezybox here too.

28F. While delegates were shooting with the Quadra I took a couple of frames of Katy on my Fuji. It’s very astute to capture moments created by other photographers but from a different angle and I encourage all the delegates to look for other compositions or angles at every setup.

29F. Down in the depths of the monastery it was grim and dark. I lit this shot of Maca with an ezybox on a Quadra. I asked for a sad and frightened look to give the shot an edge.

30C. Natural light from a window 30 metres away was all I used for this shot of Maca. ISO 3200, 1/40th second at f/2.8 with my 21mm lens.

31C. Fabulous light is everywhere if you know where to look for it.

32C. After lunch it was time for my group to shoot some close ups and beauty portraits of Maca. I love to explore my models with various lighting and camera angles. This was our first shoot together so it took me some time to build our rapport needed for these portraits. I took this shot from below Maca’s eye line and with low angle side lighting.

33C. From above with direct soft light.

34C. From eye level

35C. In thought

36C. And having fun

37C. A questioning look in monochrome that somehow draws me in. Maca is both beautiful and very attractive. What I mean by the term attractive is that is she has an alluring nature that comes from within and you can see that in her eyes. I’m always fascinated with capturing attractiveness. Beauty is the easier of the two to capture.



40C. My last shot of Maca from a wonderful first day at the monastery.

My next blog will be my pictures from day 2 when we all went to the mines and quarry workings. Then finally my shots from a personal shoot day that Martin and I had organised with the models. With joint training workshops it is not easy for the tutors to learn from each other so Martin and I always ensure we get a creative personal shoot session in too.

Please feel free to join Martin and I on our next Spanish adventure next October. You have to get yourself there and sort accommodation but we can always recommend hotels etc. We had planned this event well and I think we got the detail about right. A trip like this goes way beyond a usual two day workshop scenario. The evening starts with tapas and the laughter flows along with wine and fine food late into the night. Dates have yet to be confirmed but we will act to meet the demand from you. I’m sure some of the deligates will share their experiences below.

Please feel free to leave comments below.


    • damien

      Hi Barney,

      Spain 2011 was a really great experience. 2012 will be all the better with you :) Details are here. We will be taking two models from the UK next time :)

      Kind regards, Damien.

  1. Stephen Pickup

    Many thanks again for a tremendous experience in Spain.
    Special thanks to the team Blaise, Katy, Maca, Damien and Martin.
    Anyone thinking of going next year take the opportunity to recharge the creative batteries. An opportunity not to be missed.

  2. Juho

    Is higher resolution available somehow?

    • damien

      Hi Juho,

      These images wil be printed on art paper and available for viewing at SWPP and Focus on Imaging shows in the UK. Some will also be selected for my next book. There is no high res available online because of image theft. I’m happy for my images to be used on mood boards and for inspiration but I don’t often share high res versions. I hope you get the chance to see the prints or come to one of my talks.

      Kindest regards, Damien.

  3. damien

    Thank you all so much for your kind comments. These few days in Spain were among the best I’ve experienced anywhere at anytime. Great company, fine photography and a whole lot of fun. Priceless!

  4. Alejandro

    Your shots are amazing, I wish I could come to your workshop some day and come out shooting at least as half as you do….

    • damien

      Thank you Alejandro,

      Your blog is full of inspiring images: Fuji X100 stuff there too I see. Thank you for your kind words. Our paths will cross. Damien.

  5. Nick Liburd

    The longest 3 days of tutoring this year that I won’t be forgetting too soon. I learnt plenty and created some great images. A big thanks to Blaise, Martin, Damien, Katy, Maca and Gecko for the surreal time in the monestry and after.

    • damien

      Thank you Nick,

      It was a pleasure to share great moments with you in Spain and Italy I hope we get together again soon. What a year it’s been for us. Such a journey since the apartment shoot last winter with Stina. Take care, Damien.

  6. Mickie Imrie

    Such a fantastic workshop and your pictures are obviously utterly stunning, Damien. I’m not sure if I’ve ever learnt so much whilst having such a great time – you and Martin completely opened my eyes to look at the world differently and inspired me to be a lot braver with my photograpy. Thank you!!

    • damien

      Hi Mickie,

      Lets do it all again shall we? A few new locations perhaps and if you can be our expert on the ground again we can work the magic in 2012. Our 2012 Spanish workshops are now bookable here.

      You were such great company and I cant wait to meet up again.

      Kindest regards,


  7. Gordon Baxter

    Guapa, guapa, guapa!!

    Brilliant shots Damien with 33c as the absolute knockout of the set for me. A big thanks to you, as well as Martin, Blaise, Katy and Maca and of course all of the other delegates for a fantastic two days of excellent training and artistic indulgence. The experience didn’t stop with the flight home either and I am already discussing collaborations with other delegates.

    Cheers! Gordon

  8. david cooke

    superb location superb models superb light and last but not least superb photos thanks for sharing Damien

    • damien

      Thanks David.

  9. Chris Hanley

    Tremendous skills. Your placement of model in the environment is on the money. I love the subtle nuances which make these images fantastic.

    • damien

      Thanks Chris,

      I still get that tingling sensation when the viewfinder image all comes together and I know you do too. I hope I never grow up or loose the passion. Cheers bud.

  10. Martin hill

    WOW! Amazing shots Mr L, got to go some to match these. what an amazing few days one I’ll never forget and hope to repeat very soon. Some of my offerings will be available on my return from India.
    Thanks guys for such fun what an industry we a in. LOVE IT!

    • damien

      Thanks Martin,

      I’m so excited to hear about India and to see your pictures from Spain. Get home safely. Damien

  11. Angela Clulow

    Fabulous, beautiful, gorgeous shots! What a wonderful location, maybe I will join you next time …….

    • damien


      Please do! It would be great to have you there. Wherever there maybe.

      Best regards, Damien.

  12. Jeremy Gilson

    This trip was THE highlight of my photographic career to date, it was just amazing. I learned so much, took great pictures and had the most incredible time. Thank you again Damien, Martin, Blaise, Katy and Maca.

    • damien

      Thank youy Jeremy, I’m so glad you were there to share the fun. Work hard, play hard and get inspired along the way – Great times, priceless memories.

      Cheers, Damien.



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