The Lake Garda Retreat Residential Portrait Photography Experience - 12-19 Oct 2019


7 nights. A luxury villa. 4 to max 6 photographers. 4 models. 2 hair & makeup artists. A stylist. A private island. Several boats. Lots of home-cooked Italian food and some really, really good wine. Join me October 12th - 19th for the ultimate retreat and experience for portrait photographers, in one of the most beautiful locations in the world: Lake Garda, Italy.

Shot at Isola del Garda, October 2018, using off-camera flash and beauty dish, backlit by sunlight

Scroll down for the itinerary...


Accommodation is in the villa next to Sarah's house, "Villa Sarah"(:-D), with heated swimming pool and gorgeous views of Lake Garda. It has one shower or bathroom per room, plus one extra downstairs. Location is in the hills overlooking Salò, Lake Garda.

Isola del Garda - one of our shooting locations

The villa will be stocked with a full fridge on arrival; you are welcome to use the very well equipped kitchen and do your own shopping, however we will arrange a light lunch and dinners each day, to reduce stress to an absolute minimum. At least one evening will be spent at a local pizzeria or trattoria, as well (included).

The villas where you'll be staying, next to Sarah's house


Teaching/guidance is provided, but experienced photographers are welcome to do their own thing and participate as they wish. We'll be covering natural light, studio lighting, off-camera flash on location. However, as this is a week for intermediate/experienced/professional photographers, it will be assumed that you know the basics, are used to working in manual mode on your camera and understand how aperture and shutter speed work together with flash.

Day 0 (Saturday): Arrival day. People will be arriving at different times throughout the day and night at the two villas.

Day 1 (Sunday): This will be a day of relaxation and getting to know each other, as we will be working really hard for the next 6 days and many will have travelled from afar. You can relax and swim in the heated pool, sightsee, get over your jet lag and we can talk shop over some wonderful home-cooked Italian food. Let’s talk about our photography journey, our businesses and, why not, let’s set some concrete goals and intentions and lay out a plan of action for ourselves.

Day 2 (Monday): A driver and people carrier will take us all to Cross Studios in Milan, where we will have rented out an entire floor with two huge studios. In 2018 we had several models, including a men's fitness model, fashion model, mother and child models, 2 makeup artists, hairdresser and wardrobe stylist. We will have several hundred square metres of shooting space with different sets and wall textures.

A light lunch will be provided and snacks to keep you going from 9am to 6pm of solid shooting.

The studio has incredible natural light, as well as wind machines, profoto strobes, reflectors, flats, and all the modifiers you may need. Dinner will be provided on our return.

One of the many set-ups at Cross+Studios, Milan

Day 3 (Tuesday): You are going to need this rest morning! Relax, sleep in, sightsee down at the lake, whatever you wish to do. After lunch, Sarah will be offering a retouching demo on the photographs taken the day before, and will guide you through her entire workflow. Then you can try out her techniques, with Sarah on hand to advise and assist as necessary. Dinner will be provided in the evening (but if you wish to dine out independently or have an early night just let us know. We won't be offended :-)

Sarah's retouching, before and after

Day 4 (Wednesday): Epic shoot day at Isola del Garda. We will be renting use of the island for shooting for the entire day. It is a privately owned island with neogothic mansion, some incredible gardens and some wonderful spots for epic, "dream shoot" style wall portraits. We will have lunch at the island as well and spend the entire day shooting there. A private chartered boat will take us there and bring us back to shore at the end of the day.

The private island we will be shooting at for the day

Day 5 (Thursday): Another well-earned rest in the morning. After lunch, Jo Littler will be doing an open Q&A on how she regularly sustained 8-12 shoots per week for 8 years with one of the highest national averages at her UK boudoir and portrait studio. Pick her brains, steal her marketing ideas and go home with all the information you need to fill your portrait sessions calendar.

Day 6 (Friday): Boudoir/Editorial lingerie day at an Art Nouveau luxury hotel on the lakefront, in the bridal suite.

Boudoir/Editorial lingerie Day
Shot at the Milan Studios- final fashion shot

Day 7 (Saturday): Departure day. Expect tears and lifelong friendships, a full external hard disk and a brand new attitude.

NB: in 2018 our schedule changed slightly, putting the two "villa days" into one in order to add a day at the Graphistudio headquarters and factory. This will very likely be the case in 2019 too!

PRICE: The cost of the week includes:

7 nights accommodation in luxury private villa (double room), full fridge on arrival, lunch and dinner Sunday to Friday inclusive, Milan studio rental including lighting equipment and sets, models for shooting days (as many as required to ensure lots of one-on-one shooting time), make-up and hair artists, couture wardrobe rental and purchase, accessories, bus and driver, private boat charter, private island rental including lunch, 4 hours retouching training with Sarah, marketing session with Jo Littler, pool heating and all utilities for the villas. Flights and private car rental not included.

EUR 4995 (VAT applicable to EU residents outside Italy without a VAT number and Italian residents with or without VAT number, as well as NON-EU residents without valid business tax number). EU residents and US/Canadian/Australian residents WITH a valid VAT or EIN number will not be charged additional 22% VAT (sales tax).

PARTNERS: if you wish to bring your partner to share your room, there is a supplement to pay: 1500 for photographer partners; 500 for non-photographer partners.

Still curious? Watch the video of our outrageously fun week in October 2018, below...


Sarah Ferrara, Katie Needle/RM Photography

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