Martina at an abandoned factory in Italy

Oct 1, 2020 | Flash, GFX, Location | 17 comments

Model: Martina Bellacima
Location: Southern Italy
Client: None. It was a personal shoot

Lighting: Godox AD1200pro with 70cm softbox and grid
Camera: Fujifilm GFX 50s with GF 32-64mm and 110mm lenses
Tripod: Nova T20 with Benro ball head and RRS lever lock plate

Martina at an abandoned factore lit in a surreal fashion style

This location caught my eye on Google Earth and I just had to drive the few thousand kilometres to check it out. I did a recce with my friend Dave and we went back the next day to shoot with Martina. There are so many shoot spots here and absolutely no graffiti. I’m saving this location for my workshop clients in 2021 before revealing its whereabouts.

Smoke makes all the difference in this shot of Martina

Smoke can make a big difference to a shot. I love the randomness of real smoke on set.

Driving to Italy gave me the option to take a few extra tools that I have never had the luxury of using there in the past. I loaded the car with several decent stands, a boom arm, a battery powered smoke machine, the big Godox AD1200 kit, a large softbox, a full continuous lighting kit and several Godox AD200 heads with modifiers. Most of these things I’d have to leave behind if I were flying to Italy. Fortunately for me, my flights from Bristol to Rome got cancelled by Eazyjet so I decided to drive to Rome instead.

My journey first took me via Eurotennel to Belgium where I ran a couple of workshops. Then I journeyd on through Luxembourg, Switzerland and into Italy doing shoots along the way. Many of these shoots will be on the blog here soon.

My Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio handled the rough terrain and several off road experiences. This video captures one such detour along a dissuesed railway in the quest to find unique shoot locations. “What could possibly go wrong?”

Martina in a derelict manufacturing plant.
The long walk home

The long walk home. I gave this shot a 16×9 crop to make it feel more cinematic.


  1. Ian

    Love the way the light falls through the smoke. Thanks for the inspiration, and thanks for the images. they’re great.

    • Damien

      Thank you, Ian, You can get 90% of the effect with Photoshop brushes apparently but I love getting it right in the camera even if it does mean carting a smoke machine to Italy.

      Cheers, Damien.

  2. Nicholas Rogers

    How bout coming to Ozz for a workshop, Jan/ February nice and warm, escape the misery of a dull English winter ‍♂️


    • Damien

      Hi Nick,

      Are you guys Covid free now and do you let in Brits? I was under the impression that Ozz is a no go zone.

      I’ve done workshops in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth but I missed off Adelaide on my last trip. That was several years ago now and I’d definitely like to do another tour down under.

      Escaping the misery here is a dream.



    • Michael Thornton

      Hi Damien,
      Your pics are superb as always. I do admire your bravery in doing this car journey under the current covid circumstances, finding a place on google maps you fancy and off you go.
      Are your models pre booked or simply hired from local agencies, your accommodation, is that pre arranged also.
      You certainly deserve some super photos after a journey like that.

      Kind regards,

      • Damien

        Hi Michael,

        Travelling in my own car is surprisingly safe. Italy was far safer than the UK so there was no bravery needed at all. This was a time between ‘Covid waves’. The perfect time to get away from it all. I booked models that I found on Instagram or ones I’d booked before. I used for hotels. I started looking at about 4pm each day once I knew where I wanted to stay the night and there were always plenty of great hotels to choose from at super prices.

        I just went for it. That’s why success happened. I’ve spent the majority of the year isolating and when the opportunity arose I had a fabulous trip. I think next year I’ll just drive through Europe again. Maybe a Spain and Portugal trip. A Scandinavia trip too. I can location scout for a week then run a workshop and move on to the next country etc.

        Life is out there if we are careful.

        Damien :)


    Wow….thanks for the inspiration…Do hope to join you in 2021…Love the cinematic feel on location

    • Damien

      Thank you Simon. You’d be very welcome on a workshop in 2021. I just hope I have the chance to do some next year.

      Best regards,


  4. Robert Wilson

    Wonderful Images Damien !!!!

    • Damien

      Thanks Robert :)

    • Damien

      Thanks Tom :)

  5. Steve Allum

    Stunning Damien, as always. You always find the best locations and have the skills to get the best out of the models working with you.

    • Damien

      Thank you Steve.

      It’s a continual location search process but I absolutely love it and when the shots come together it’s a great feeling. Thanks for your kind words,


  6. Brian Cotten

    Nice work Damien. As always, inspiration ensues. I really enjoy the simplicity and clean results you somehow achieve from an otherwise chaotic backdrop.

  7. Paul Schroer

    Damien, this is awesome, especially the first picture outside. How to play the video at normal speed? Just kidding :-) :-)

    Kind regards, Paul

    • Damien

      Thanks Paul :)


Ask a question or leave a comment. All comments get a reply.