This collection of 72 photographs of Leo and Mischkah was taken during my final workshops in Tuscany, in September 2022.
- Photographer: Damien Lovegrove
- Models: Leo Leblanche & Mischkah Scott
- Styling: Damien, Leo and Mischkah
- Technical support: Håvard Løberg
- Event page: Tuscany 2022
- Camera: Fujifilm GFX50s
- Lenses: GF 23-64mm, GF 80mm, GF 110mm, GF 250mm
- Lighting: Lupo Superpanel, Godox AD200 with Fresnel head
- Filters: Tiffen Black Pro Mist 1/2, Handmade Morrocan silk diffuser
- Smoke Machine: Scotty 11 from The Smoke Factory in Germany
01. I wanted a sense of fairytale, children’s literature, with a narrative of jeopardy and belonging. Leo wears a layered tulle skirt and bralet that I had made for these shoots and she is lit with the Lupo Superpanel set to 3200k. The colour palette of these photographs is inspired by renaissance paintings.
This was my 10th workshop in Italy and the last one that I will run in Tuscany. I now have an opportunity to explore another region of Italy in preparation for an all-new workshop in September 2023. This was also the last of my workshops to feature nudity. It’s time to move on and as you probably know; my picture styles have continually evolved through the years. I’m developing a narrative-led lifestyle portrait genre for 2023 starting with this sell-out tour of the abandoned gold mines of Nevada and California in May.
02. The cellar of this old Tuscan farmhouse is where the animals live in the winter. A new farm has been built by the latest generation of the family just 1 km up the track leaving this building, once home to their parents, abandoned. When I say ‘track’, I mean rough, rugged, rocky trail. Our hire cars just about negotiated the boulders without too many scrapes and dents on the underside.
03. These walls have stories to tell for sure. This is a special place to be. It has the fabulous textures that I crave for my photography. The aroma of farm animals still fills the air and it’s exciting and a privilege just to be in this space. Leo is lit with the battery-powered Lupo Superpanel.
04. Mischkah rests against a centuries-old feeding trough with a piece of cloth that I bought online. It looked just like one I saw on a sculpture in the Vatican museum.
05. I placed the bottles on the mantlepiece in this railway workers’ hut three years ago and I love how they are still there. The only light here is the light of the sky coming through a broken window. I reduced the colour temperature in my camera to create this warm, rich, atmosphere.
06. Glancing light is fabulous to work with. The oils on the skin create a wonderful sheen and in turn specular reflections that push a spike on the histogram over to the right. I’m not one to look at histograms because they get in the way of art. I asked my clients to switch off the blinking exposure aids and histograms and just ‘feel’ the exposures. What could possibly go wrong? A Tiffen Black Pro Mist filter completed the look.
07. Mischkah is lit with daylight entering the room through an open door. This is another abandoned farmhouse and one that I call the bike shack. You can’t see a bike in these shots but there is a bike in the building. I give my locations names because apart from coordinates there is no other way of identifying them. There are no postcodes or addresses. These are places where a 4×4 and a short hike is often needed to get to them.
08. Left: Leo is in the farmhouse that I call the blue room and is lit with the Lupo Superpanel. Right: Mischkah is in glancing sunlight at 3:20 pm at Monte Amiata station.
09. These blocks of wood set into the wall are where horse saddles were hung at the end of the day. The grim remains of the farm cat lingered just behind my tripod.
10. I normally only have one model to shoot at a time so I had to make the most of this opportunity. Having shot over 400 weddings working with couples comes naturally to me. I wanted to portray friends, not lovers, in these shots. A howling gale came through open windows behind us, so it was a bit tough on the girls.
11. Mischkah cut Leo’s hair the day before this shoot and the wind played havoc with the styling but I love the results.
12. I have many beautiful pictures of this scene but I’ll share just two with you here. The other photographs will be in my future books for sure.
13. Tuscany has many thermal spas and the water flow can reach 40°C at times. This pool and cascade isn’t at one of them. My smoke machine operated by Håvard delivered the atmosphere.
14. Reminiscent of so many classical works, this photograph ticks my boxes. The shot perspective and foreground foliage contribute to the feeling of a voyeuristic view. The lingering smoke completes the look.
15. I bought this hat online and it took quite a lot of steaming to recover its shape after the trip from China wrapped inside a ball inside a box. The hat really adds to these pictures and was one of my more successful purchases.
16. Long grasses and an olive grove are some of my favourite shoot locations. You may have noticed by now that I try not include the sky in my pictures so finding an unkempt olive grove with a gentle slope up towards the sun was a task that took quite some time. Most olive groves are mown or ploughed between the trees.
17. This modelling malarkey is tough at times. The look of course is deceptive. There are six photographers in the olive grove, bugs, creepy crawlies and possibly the odd snake but don’t mention that last bit to Mischkah when you next see her.
18. The long and winding road…
19. There was just time for a picnic and a nap in a glade of Black Walnut trees. The ripening fruit of the walnut trees had a distinct lemon boquet.
20. We had regular visits from two black cats at our private estate. This one snuck into the pictures for a fleeting moment before deciding to slope off. This mini session happened at 17:45 h just as the sun was sinking behind the olive trees.
21. I lit Mischkah with a Scattergel fitted to my Godox AD200. The high viewpoint and downbeat pose deliver a narrative of regret.
A moment of reflection
Long ago I wished to leave
‘The house where I was born;’
Long ago I used to grieve,
My home seemed so forlorn.
In other years, its silent rooms
Were filled with haunting fears;
Now, their very memory comes
O’ercharged with tender tears.
22. The crisp lines of Mischkah’s suit and dappled light caused by sunlight streaming through trees deliver a more upbeat note.
23. I found a little bit of flat light for this portrait of Mischkah and I snapped Leo taking a BTS.
24. Leo became quite attached to my hat or should I say the hat was attached to Leo. Either way, the hat was a cute accessory.
25. Left: A gust of wind created a Marilyn moment. The shaft of sunlight striking through the broken roof of this railway station building adds to the drama. Right: Leo in full sun.
26. This location reminded me of the Trumpton Clock. It’s a blast from the past and featured in the title sequence of a children’s tv programme from the 1960s. Yes, I’m that old! The white styling contrasts well here and the sunlight brings the shot alive.
27. We mixed up the styling and shot angles between the workshops. I ran two 4 day workshops back to back with a few days off in Siena in between. We covered the same locations but with minor variations due to weather and circumstances.
28. Leo at the ready to change the points while Mischkah looks on from her goods train.
29. Leo and I found ourselves in the cab of a hot, stuffy train. Leo sat at the controls while I added a splash of flash to give the picture some punch.
30. Mischkah in the sleepy back streets of Seggiano at around 4 pm on a sunny afternoon. The whole town seems to be on a permanent siesta at this time of year. The heat stored in the flagstones and walls radiates for several hours after the sun goes down.
31. Leo in full sun. Right: In a back alley in Seggiano. Left: Against the sky. As you know I try to avoid the sky in my pictures because it is often the brightest part of the scene and leads the viewer’s eye right out of the top of the shot. In this case, though I used it as a backdrop because the relative illumination of the crisp sunlight on Leo was set off nicely against the low contrast sky behind her. Contrast separation is great when it all comes together.
32. Fashion portraits on the streets of Seggiano. Left: Hazy sunlight has a good combination of hardness with soft contrast to reveal Leo’s fabulous bone structure. Right: I often choose to go bold and work with the sun as a key light.
33. Sunlit portraits in Seggiano. By 16:30 h in the afternoon the shallow angle of the sun had become exciting to work with.
34. The side entrance to the renaissance Palazzo Piccolominia in Pienza circa 1456 was the perfect setting for this flash-lit portrait of Leo. The steps are so visitors can hop straight off their horses and into the palace.
35. We passed by this wonderful entrance to Pienza town hall. Steeped in history and a fabulous location for a mini shoot. The gold dress is the subject of a book that I am working on and you might recognise it from previous shoots of mine.
36. Left: Mischkah in the bedroom, lit with the Superpanel. Top Right: Mischkah on location, lit with the Superpanel. Bottom Right: Mischkah on location, lit with the light from a doorway.
37. I closed all the shutters in the bedroom except one. I left it open a crack and that delivered a beautiful pool of light for this shot.
38. I loved the energy in this grab shot of Leo. It’s not quite sharp where it needs to be and the night dress needs an iron but the feeling is there and that’s what matters in this photograph.
39. I lit Leo with the Lupo Superpanel for all of these shots. Right: The light was outside the double doors shining through the glass to simulate sunlight. I often rig my lights outside of a room as that is where the light enters naturally and it keeps the shot free from lighting stands etc.
40. For this mirror shot of Leo I tucked the Superpanel behind the wardrobe that is just out of shot to the left of the frame.
Well done for getting this far. Thank you for indulging me. I am planning two major workshop events each year. This year they were Fuerteventura and Tuscany. Next year they will be the USA and Italy. I’ve yet to finalise my locations in Italy and I’ll be off there again soon to do my recce. If you’d like to join me on a workshop or adventure sign up for my newsletter here. Places go fast and my newsletters provide advanced notice of their release.
Stunning images. I dream of one day getting even slightly close …Thanks for sharing
Thank you Brian for your compliments. You are probably far closer than you think. Keep shooting and the results will come.
Hi Damien, Great images as always you are truly the master of light.
Thank you for those kind compliments Martyn :)
Hi Damien, just discovered some of your YouTube videos, great videos and very useful.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge and tips with us.
Your work is truly amazing and inspiring for me.
Hope to see lots of new material from you soon
Michel Straub, from the Netherlands
Thank you for your kind words.
Best wishes from the UK,
Damien, beautiful pictures, simply the best.
Having been fortunate enough to have joined you on your recent Tuscany workshop I can’t recommend the experience highly enough. I’ve seen a big step up in my images when implementing what you so patiently taught me. Thank you also to Leo and Mischkah, both a joy to work with.
Hi David, Thank you for those wonderful compliments. We had a fabulous trip together and we all learned from each other for sure.
Such a nice post again. Thanks for the inspiration. I’m often in the north of Spain but I definitely have to visit Italy I think :-). How do you like the GF 80mm? I have the 110 and it’s gorgeous but sometimes too narrow or I find myself having to have to much distance of the subject. So the 80 seems to be the logical choice…
Thank you for the compliments. I may find myself back in Spain or Portugal again soon as the weather is so appealing.
The GF80mm lens has had a lot of bad press but it’s really not that bad. It focuses faster on my GFX50s than on my client’s GFX100s which I thought was strange. It does suffer from chromatic aberration in all areas of the frame when used wide open but that can be corrected with the eye dropper tool in Lightroom. Apart from that it is beautifully sharp and the bokeh is pleasing to the eye. I was going to sell it on after this trip but the results have earned its stay in my camera bag.
Kind regards, Damien
Thank you Damien. I would stop it down a bit anyway to f2 or so. I should try one out. It’s a nice focal length.
PS regarding the weather; I find the humidity going higher each year (at least the North and Costa Brava region), that’s not pleasant. Warm and dry feels better, like the south of France and certain regions in Italy of course. I’ve never been to the South of Spain nor Portugal, so can’t say much about that. Anyway, I digress :-)
Hi Damien, love these pictures. The master did it again ;) I do recognise some of the spots we visited last year. And again 2 perfect models! Hope to join you in the near future. Ivan
I can’t believe that it has been over a year since we were shooting in Tuscany. Happy days indeed and yes, I reshot the best of our locations and added a few new ones. Thank you for your compliments and I hope to see you very soon.
I join the rest of the commentators in admiring your work Damian. Great images and your use of natural light instructive and very inspirational.
In #21 I struggled to see any scatterflash effect on or around Mischkah. Would you explain what pattern you used please.
On a practical note I could not see the whole of any image as they are so tall :-) Most of them at least 1200 pixels high with the tallest being 2400 pixels.I appreciate that folks have different size displays but when I publish images for others to view I cap them at 1000 pixels high so that they are convenient to view and fit on most screens. Something to consider perhaps?
Thank you for your kind words and observations :)
In shot #21 Mischkah is sitting in a patch of light. I angled the flash so that a clear bit of the Scattergel was falling on her. I didn’t want the splodges to be on her, just on the scene behind her. I probably used the Shard gel as it has a clear zone.
The Prophotonut website is optimised for smartphones and retina displays as the majority of my readers are using mobile devices. In portrait mode on a modern mobile device the vertical pictures look nice and nearly fill the frame, for instance a regular iPhone 14 is a whopping 2532 pixels high. On a 5k monitor the website is displayed well with any shape of browser window. If you are on a laptop just narrow your browser window to set a square or vertical aspect ratio and refresh the page. The website will automagically deliver the full experience. There are four sizes of my website to choose from.
Thanks for the explanations Damian on #21 and image sizes. I am clearly in the dinosaur category as I am viewing your blog on my “admin” desktop (I keep my photo editing PC quite separate from my admin PC which has all of the emails and other stuff in an effort to reduce my vulnerability to virus attacks). I opened #21 in a new tab and viewed it at full size and saw the “splodges” on the wall so all is now clear – what a lovely picture. Cheers Peter
Love these. Great work as always by all :) Oh and I also remember Trumpton but I may well of been from the reruns as I am only in my mid 50s :) The book of the gold dress sounds intresting :)
I’m 58 so maybe we both remember the original Trumpton well but I got the date wrong. Anyway, thank you for the compliments,
These shots are beautiful, you know when some people shoot black and white the light looks hard and too sharp, your shots show a softness and calmness to them as if they were colour, beautiful work.
Thank you Rodney, I know exactly what you mean about using punchy contrast to bring monochrome pictures to life. I love this calmer approach and it relies on having a lot of green in the mix when converting to black and white.
It would be nice, if there were more workshops…. Maybe, 2-3 days with 2 models… !?
Several days for several thousand euros unfortunately not everyone can afford… And if, then the courses are also too quickly full…
Thank you for your message. You raised important points.
You are probably unaware of the hundreds of one and two-day low-cost workshops that I have organised and delivered over the past 12 years or so. I’ve run those in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, New York, Singapore, Jakarta, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo, Prague, Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Paris, Antwerp, Ghent, Amsterdam, Den Haag, Rotterdam, Fribourg, Basel, Cartegena, Cadiz, Valencia, Fuerteventura, Toulouse, Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, Belfast, Milton Keynes, Taunton and London. The genres covered included wedding photography, Hollywood portraits, studio lighting, urban portraits, Lovegrove nudes, boudoir, and the business of social photography. I’ve certainly done my time putting on events where I have travelled to my customers and it was a great life for sure.
A few years ago I upped my game and put on longer, more lavish events in places like Cuba and Cambodia. These events tick my boxes and I absolutely love them. My clients come from all over the world and that multicultural input generates a buzz. I am gladly semi-retired now and run two epic events each year. I no longer have staff so I keep my workload manageable and my events as wonderful as I can make them. Life is short and I have the opportunity to choose where I shoot and the experiences that I share with my clients. I arrange my workshops and adventures accordingly. My USA adventures are epic road trips delivering fabulous lifelong memories and friendships and my Italian workshops take in the finest food, wine and culture. Gone are the days when I’m shooting three budget workshops a week. It’s about life choices.
Once again just looking at your work gives me inspiration, the lighting is just wonderful. Absolutely top banana!
Thank you Graham for the compliments. :)
Man oh man! You never cease to surprise me! GORGEOUS PHOTOS! Over and over again! Mischkah is a gorgeous woman already but you make her become a goddess!!! And your lighting… Leaves me speechless… WELL DONE DAMIEN!!! ❤️❤️
Thank you Ioannis,
Those are compliments indeed coming from you.
Damien these portraits are so beautiful, I love the contrast in them and the ones with the sunglasses have that ‘Vogue’ feeling to them. I bought the Portrait PDF many years ago and the wedding day mastery book (in book form) and still love going back through them today.
Hopefully you’ll bring a Portraits Continued book out with the newer images.
Best wishes, Lawrence.
Thank you, Lawrence,
I’ll be working on a couple of new books this winter for sure.
Just beautiful work as usual Damien. This really needs to be another book. I still have the one with Cloe-Jasmin but you actually seem to get better with age. One can appreciate the effort and thought it takes to get these awesome images.
Thank you, Frank for your wonderful comments. I’ll be working on new books this winter. I’ll need to employ a curator to work through my 21,000 personal images to pull together my best work. I feel someone elses input is vital in this regard.
Kind regards, Damien
These are so wonderful Damien. I am curious as to why you are shooting with the 50s. I thought you had upgraded to the 100s – no? Is it too much for portraits or something?
Thank you for the compliments.
I bought my Fujifilm GFX50s six years ago and despite four newer GFX models being released by Fujifilm, my original camera is still the best camera for me. The law of diminishing returns has finally impacted the stills photography market. The latest generation of digital camera sensors and lenses are so good that any new models deliver minimal if any improvements in the image quality seen in print despite the marketing BS.
Having been on a path of replacing digital cameras with improved versions every three years or so I tested the mighty Fujifilm GFX100 when it first came out. I took it to Venice and put it through its paces. It was too heavy for my needs and I still preferred the pictures from my GFX50s. The 50s pictures just looked right straight from the camera. A couple of years later I tested the smaller GFX100s it was a pre-production model so I forgave its failings. I still wasn’t happy with the image quality produced preferring the output of my trusty GFX50s. I struggled with the 100s skin tones in post-production and there was too much detail in the centre of the image. Trust me, when you are shooting portraits, the last thing you need is more detail in the centre area of the frame. The 100s files at 100% do not flatter faces at all. The detail at the edge of the frame is the same for both the 50 and 100-megapixel sensor cameras as the GFX system is lens limited when the lenses are used wide open like I do.
I was convinced that the IBIS in the GFX 50s mk2 would be a game-changer for me so I bought one. I’ve had to use a tripod for almost every shot that I’ve taken with my old GFX50s. In practice, every shot I took with the new mk2 needed straightening in post-production and in general I was not happy with my composition or working method at the taking stage. I also found the AF on the mk2 not as good as the original 50s despite the marketing claims. It just pumps in a fast but slightly annoying way. The focus also ‘missed’ on quite a few frames. Something I never seem to get with the 50s. I guess that might change with firmware updates in the future.
For some reason, the 50s mk2 pictures are not as lovely as the original 50s. I find skin tones harder to get right with a tendency for both yellow and magenta tones to go a bit wild. Again, I don’t know why. So after 6000 frames of testing over two trips to Fuerteventura, I sold my 50s mk2 and I have reverted to using my 6-year-old GFX50s. Oh, and the tilting viewfinder of the GFX 50s is amazing. Something they decided to abandon on the newer camera models.
I hope this helps,
Wonderful set of photos. Again you show great mastery. Interesting to see that you have added the 80mm to your arsenal. The 250mm sure is a dream of mine. I guess the nude photos at the thermal spa were shot with the 250mm? All the best, Karsten
Thank you. The pictures that look like a thermal spa but are indeed a cool pool and styled with my smoke machine were shot with the GF 80mm at f/1.7
What a feast for the eyes. These are incredible. Your lighting is utterly divine, settings wonderful and talented models too. Its been a long time since Ive done portraiture but you have inspired me! Thank you
Thank you, Angi,
I’m glad you are feeling inspired. Thanks for your compliments.
Damien! Just absolutely breathtaking work. I can’t stop staring at these pictures. I keep coming back to them. The light, texture, beauty. Beyond perfection. Your clients must have been in total Heaven learning and will have acquired so many skills. Bravo.
Thank you for those lovely compliments. They mean a lot to me.
Such beautiful work Damien. I recognise some of the locations and it took me back to the 2021 workshop.
Two great models to work with and I am looking forward to our desert trip in May 2023.
Just had to congratulate you all on the wonderful images you have created.
I cannot recommend your workshops highly enough as they are a great learning experience.
Thank you Gary,
Thank you for the compliments. I’m really looking forward to our next adventure in the USA next May.
Wonderful images! They certainly stir the desire to take part in a workshop.
Thanks for the tips & posting
Love it… – such a great workshop in which i learned a great deal; thanks to you Damien and a wonderful team and new friends
Thank you Didier for your kind words. I look forward to our next adventure together in the USA next May.