Portugal lost locations

Mar 4, 2019 | Flash, GFX, Location, News, Travel | 14 comments

Each year I set off on road trips in search of lost locations. Recently I have been to Morocco and now Portugal. When I find enough decent locations to shoot I return home and set about planning the perfect workshop. I love to share my vision and shooting experience with other like minded photographers. Here are my notes from the recce.

01. Spring had already sprung in Portugal by the middle of February. Clear blue skies and 23°C temperatures were very welcome. I will run my workshop in September this year, before the October rains and after the August heatwaves.

I always do my homework before a reconnaissance mission or ‘recce’ to save time on the ground. I scour Google Earth for likely locations looking for holes in roofs by zooming right in. I also look to see how well used any tracks are that lead to a property or if there is evidence of any recent activity on the site. I then transfer locations to a custom map that I have created and use street view to see the lie of the land nearby. Google Earth can be a year or two out of date so I make sure I have many locations to check out, just in case I draw a blank. Sometimes I get to site only to discover the building is being renovated or it is still in use to house farm machinery etc.

02. I had arranged to meet Lucía Acosta, a model from Seville at this fabulous location. I like to combine location recces with paid test shoots for potential models.

I usually pick up a hire car at the airport and go off in search of the pins on my custom Google map. This recce in Portugal took me over 700km in just one region but it was worth the effort. My findings were spectacular. I have occasionally come back from a recce without enough locations to make a workshop worthwhile.

03. Abandoned chapels and churches always look great in photographs but the trick is to find the ones that haven’t been spray painted with mindless tagging.


04. Some of the sites I visit are vast with many arches and alleyways. I rig my tripod and occasionally flash with modifiers and see what response the locals give me. Attitudes vary country to country but politeness and respect are usually key to success.


05. I loved the sunlight coming through the broken windows and open doors of this old church. The roof had been repaired with steel sheeting so it was perfectly safe to shoot within without the risk of falling tiles.


06. This is one of our key locations. Full of charm and picture opportunities. I took this shot with an iPhone 7+ along with all the pictures in this post that don’t have Lucía in. It’s a great tool for doing recces because every shot is geo tagged and when they are in Lightroom the map module shows exactly where they were taken to 2m accuracy.


07. I used a Scatterflash attachment on my Godox AD200 to break up the light for these shots in the abandoned church.


08. These portraits were lit with the Scatterflash on the AD200 too. The gold dress is one of mine that I brought from the UK. Sometimes the styling makes a big difference to a shoot.


09. This is where our fun will begin on the workshop. This house even has its own beach but the tide will be on its way out when we are visiting.


10. This classic house offers fabulous opportunities for striking portraiture with narrative or simply great design.


11. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be picture opportunities.


12. I’m pretty sure there is a fair bit of history to be researched about this location and I’ll share my findings with the group over a picnic lunch on site.


13. Other abandoned farm building litter the countryside. What is redundant for one farmer is a picture opportunity for sure. This farm will give us an hour or two of shooting on our way back to the hotel on day three.


14. I love colour and old boats. I checked out some fishing boats and came up trumps.


15. We will visit this area on the 20th September when the high tide corresponds with sunset. The devil is in the detail when it comes to planning. At the recce I was on site just about at low tide two hours before sunset hence the mud. This location will suit long exposure work and will look amazing whatever the weather.

Details of the forthcoming Scatterflash modifier are here and details of this workshop are here.

It will be great if you can join us on this three day adventure


  1. José Filipe Sepúlveda

    Hi Damien. I am glad to hear that you will run a workshop in Portugal this year. Where exactly will the workshop take place?
    Is it directed specifically to professional photographers or also to interested amateurs which is my case?
    I have a XT-20 with 2 lenses: Fujinon 18-55 2.8-4.0 and Fujinon 23mm f2.

  2. Fernando Portillo

    Fantastic Damien let me know next time in Portugal

  3. Damien

    Thank you Fernando. I will do. See you soon :)

    Kindest regards,


  4. Jan Brouckaert

    Damien . This is a good trip . But honestly , knowing the prices over there , this is way too expensive.

  5. Damien

    Thanks Jan, We don’t compete on price. We compete on customer experience. Decent hotels, SUVs, a pro model and expert tuition make this a great trip. It’s not in everyone’s budget for sure.

    Kindest regards,


  6. Damien

    Hi José, Thank you for your questions. This is a road trip starting and ending at Lisbon Airport. We pick up a couple of SUVs and head out to the shoot locations. Our first night will be in Hotel Pousada Castelo Alcácer do Sal and then we head to Evora. We shoot at various locations near Evora staying two nights at Hotel M’ar de Ar Aqueduto and make our way back to the airport in the morning of day 4.

    This trip is not aimed at professionals, it is aimed at enthusiastic, passionate photographers who want a fabulous photography holiday and learning experience. The camera and lenses you have are perfect for this trip. I am very familiar with the X-T20 and the wonderful 18-55mm lens. I will supply you with a Fujifilm dedicated trigger for the off camera shots and all the instruction necessary in an easy to understand way.

    You will be working with your X-T20 in manual mode using the LCD screen or EVF to asses exposure. I can get you up to speed via complimentary Skype sessions beforehand so that on the workshop you can enjoy the shooting without worrying about kit and settings. Feel free to ask any questions you may have, technical or logistics etc. My team will set up a Facebook group for the photographers on this trip so they can ‘meet’ each other, discuss the route and equipment choices etc ahead of the adventure.

    Here is a link to all the info: https://lovegroveadventures.com/portugal/

    Kindest regards,


  7. Patrick Noone

    Looks great, do you have to apply for any permits to shoot at those locations or are the Portuguese relatively easy going ? In Paris you need a permit to use a tripod lol.

  8. Damien

    Hi Patrick,

    I’ve shot in Paris and only been moved on once in La Defence district district. There are a lot of police around in Paris though. In locations like these in Portugal you’d be lucky to meet a dog walker and I doubt a police officer has ever been there. Everyone I met was really laid back. It’s always a good idea to have a few alternative locations ready to go though just in case there is building work going on something else unexpected.

    Kind regards,


  9. Michael Thornton

    Hi, Damien,
    As usual your style and location choices never cease go amaze me, brilliant. I only wish I could afford to go on your trips.
    You say you scour google earth searching for holes in rooftops etc, when I use google earth the clarity is insufficient to see such detail. how do you do it?

  10. Damien

    Hi Michael,

    Thank you for the compliments. Here is a screenshot from my location map in Portugal. As you can see if you zoom into this level using Google Earth or Google Maps you can see holes in roofs, the condition of dust tracks and if there are any vehicles onsite too. I hope this helps.

    Kindest regards,


    Screengrab of Google Earth showing a suitable location

  11. Jorge Gil de Almeida

    Hi Damien! I’m an unconditional follower of yours and I love your kind of Photography. I would like to participate in your workshop in Portugal but unfortunately I cannot afford it. I still have the consolation to know all the places where the workshop will take place.
    I give you an important very advice: do not forget insect repellent! The fishing boat jetty where you are planning to shoot has lots and lots of highly voracious mosquitoes that appear at dusk!
    Anyone who is allergic to mosquito bites should also have an antihistamine!
    I wish you a very nice stay in Portugal.

  12. Damien

    Thank you Jorge for your top advice. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be enough demand for a Portugal workshop at the moment. Tuscany,France, Morocco no problem but I need quite a few bookings to ensure the Portugal trip goes ahead.

    Kind regards,


  13. Jorge Gil de Almeida

    I regret to hear that you have not enough booking to your planned workshop in Portugal, by this moment. I hope that till the moment you meet the number of required participants.

    I forgot to tell you that the abandoned farm where you were planning to shoot in the first day also has the same problem with mosquitoes. In Spring and Summer after +/-5 pm it’s a huge problem.



  14. Damien

    Hi Jorge,

    Thanks for the tip. We will be at the farm at noon so that should be fine and more bookings have since come in so it looks promising :)

    Kindest regards,


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