Tuscany 2024 – the recce for the workshop

May 29, 2024 | Continuous Lighting, GFX, Location, Travel | 14 comments

Photography: Damien Lovegrove
Models: Morgana Balzarotti, Susanna Fusari, Giorgia Pepe, and Mischkah
Locations: Between Massa Marittima and Siena in Tuscany
Workshop: Tuscany, September 2024

Lighting: 200w battery-powered LED spotlight with Scattergels
Camera: Fujifilm GFX 100ll, with GF30mm, GF32-64mm, GF80mm, GF110mm
Monopod: Gitzo
Styling and photography design: Damien Lovegrove & Mischkah

*** At the time of writing, there is 1 place left on Workshop One and 2 places left on Workshop 2 ***

Here is my recce map with over 100 pins placed where abandoned buildings stand in this part of Tuscany. It took me 5 evenings to scour Google Earth to identify these clusters of potential shoot locations.

This is a small selection of the buildings that I explored in March. They are typical of the locations I find using Google Earth before pinning them on my Google Map.

Once I had found my shoot spots, I needed to test them out and do a risk assessment. There are always hazards in these urbex locations and identifying them from the start is the way to go.

The next task was to find a sumptuous villa with a fine restaurant and pool to become our base for the trip. After a fun day shooting in dusty environments it’s great to unwind with fine food and a bottle of wine.

Our villa complete with a swimming pool has a fabulous restaurant onsite.

iPhone shots of my locations record the GPS data so it is easy to find them again.

Here are my pictures from the recce

Morgana Balzarotti

01. Morgana is a fashion model from Bergamo with a thoroughly professional work ethic. It was cold in March and Morgana worked hard in quite difficult circumstances.

02. I bought the daisy top and shorts from Depop, an online secondhand marketplace.

03. The big skirt is a commission from a dress shop in China. It took a couple of months to arrive and this may well be its last outing.

04. I love the settings and the rendering that I achieve with the GFX100ll. Once it is dialled in the output is simply superb. The reverse corset dress is from Oh Polly online store in the UK.

Susanna Fusari

05. Susanna was with me in Orvieto last year and I have asked her to model for my workshop again this September. She originates from Bergamo and is fun to be around. 

06. The crisp, hard light and the textures in these buildings are a winning combination.

07. I used a Tiffen ¼ Black Pro Mist filter on the lens for these shots of Susanna and you can see the dreamyness it creates. I think I’ll opt for ⅛ strength for the workshop. I’ll be mixing up the shots for the workshop but a recce was perfect for me to dial in the looks I’m after with this new camera. The extra resolution needs a slightly different approach.

The hat is from Top Shop and the cardigan is from BooHoo.

08. Susanna – radiant beauty.

09. A high vantage point and a crisp, hard key light are a winning formula for these powerful studies of Susanna. If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that I like to shoot from a low angle so this makes an interesting change.

10. We tried casual contemporary styling for some shots in this old farmhouse.

Georgia Pepe

11. Giorgia modelled for my workshop in Orvieto and I just had to work with her once more. Georgia will be with us on the last day of the workshop this September and I’m excited.

12. This abandoned chapel is an ideal location for our workshop and it made a great place to make a behind-the-scenes movie too. My smoke machine did wonders here. Scroll down for the video.

I bought the hat, jacket and trowsers from Ebay.

13. I used dappled light from my crunch Scattergel to light Giorgia. On the workshop I’ll show how to set the barn doors for a most dramatic and beautiful scene.

14. Sometimes it’s the little details that make a shot. I found the bottles in an adjacent building and placed them in the scene.

You can see the effect of my Tiffen ⅛ Black Pro Mist filter in the halation around the window. The shot on the right was the only frame that I took with the GF30mm. It’s a lens that I like but I forget I’ve got it with me sometimes.

15. Giorgia

16. A hint of backlight for the shot on the left and you can see the light that I used for this project on the right. It is fitted with a Scattergel attached to the barn doors and the light runs off a pair of V-Lock batteries. That is handy because there is no power at many of our locations. It is possible to use flash to create the look but it’s harder to set up and doesn’t give a lovely mood to the shoot zone.


17. Mischkah and I have worked together for about 10 years or so. We’ve shot in Spain and Italy many times and I decided it would be a great idea to have Mischkah and Håvard, her man with us throughout the workshop. They both live in Norway and Håvard is a full-time professional photographer in his own right. I met Håvard before I met Mischkah and I know just how much help he can be within the group. He is an expert and is on hand to help our photographers dial in their camera menus and settings.

Mischkah had to convince me that a red dress was the right thing to wear for this location. I’m not usually a fan of red and green together despite them being complimentary colours but wow! I love it. Mischkah will be my styling consultant on the workshop as well as a fabulous model.

18. It’s not often that I embrace soft light but I thought it was very appropriate here.

19. Mischkah in the chapel of love, lit with continuous light fitted with a set of barn doors.

20. Mischkah in one of our spectacular multi-level locations. There are enough shoot spots in this location to last the week.

21. I love this light and we will make the most of it for sure.

22. Mischkah has a beautiful energy and positivity to bring to the workshop.

23. Mischkah and I will collaborate on the styling and mood of the imagery in the workshop. The styling here is Mischkah’s. 

Mischkah & Susanna

24. Mischkah and Suzanna: Mischkah will be with us throughout the workshop and at times I’ll set up shots with more than one model. 

I used some of my time in Italy to shoot this tutorial video for my online Portrait Lighting Mastery course. The course is the culmination of my life’s work. All the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the past 40 years is in one easy-to-access place. If you can’t join me on this final Tuscan workshop, join me on the course instead. It will be the best fast-track journey you’ll ever take in your photography.

Take a look at the workshop details and get a full understanding of the itinerary and the experience that awaits you.

This video was shot in one of the locations I’ve earmarked to use for the workshop. It’s an abandoned chapel with beautiful textures. Click full screen and choose 4k for the full experience.


  1. Alexandra Parry

    Oh my goodness! so much beauty.. from the location, to the models and the light. Bravo Damien.

    • Damien

      Thank you Alexandra :)

  2. Stefan

    Wow, lovely! Now i know why people love tuscany. These locations are really beautiful. And in combination with a master like you the results are awesome. Thanks for sharing!

    • Damien

      Thank you Stefan,

      Most of my portrait workshop folk stay on in Tuscany to shoot some landscapes or to explore the cities like Siena, Florence and San Gimignano. I love the food and wine too. There is so much to love about Tuscany, especially in September when the schools are back and the daily highs are in the mid 20°s. Italy is a magical place for sure.

      Damien :)

  3. Jan

    Beautiful work Damien. Beautiful setting and off course models.

    • Damien

      Thank you Jan :)

  4. Andy Bennett

    What I love about your images (apart from everything!) is the way the hands/arms are always placed so they look natural – none of this ‘model’ posing with hands around the face that look stilted

  5. Matt PointZero

    Your videos always make me want to go out and shoot, thank you

    • Damien

      Thank you Matt,

      It great that you feel inspired. I now exclusively publish all my new videos in my Portrait Lighting Mastery course. This one will be removed from the post once the last places on the workshop are sold.

  6. Gordon Owen

    A lovely set of images Damien . I love the locations and your chosen lighting.Top notch work as always.

    • Damien

      Thank you Gordon :)


  7. Jeremy Gilson

    Wow, what a stunning set of images from some very special locations. I am very excited about this workshop and can’t wait!

    • Damien

      Hi Jeremy,

      You and me alike. This will be exciting and I’m glad you are joining me on yet another Tuscany workshop.



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