The Portrait Retreat Lake Garda, Italy - October 13th - 20th 2018 NOW FULLY BOOKED


7 nights. A luxury villa. 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 us this October 13th - 20th for the ultimate retreat for portrait photographers, in one of the most beautiful locations in the world: Lake Garda, Italy.

Shot at the Lake Garda portrait retreat 2017

Join Sarah Ferrara at her home in Italy for a week, with guest marketing genius Jo Littler (also our general organiser/butt kicker/sheriff for the week), for this exclusive once-a-year event.

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 Sarah's husband Enzo (amazing cook) will be providing lunches 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


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. We will have several models, including a maternity model, boudoir model, female models and a child model, 2 makeup artists and a stylist. The set up is designed so that each photographer or photographer pair avoids shooting the same set-up as any other, so your photos are unique. 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 :-)

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): Our final shooting day in Sarah's studio. On this day we will be doing more natural portraits and headshots (including of each other) to provide a solid foundation for your portfolio. Classic black and black and white on white using daylight, constant light and strobes. Possible alternative: boudoir shooting in a luxury lakeside hotel.

Shot by Sarah in her studio

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

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).

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 beta version of this incredible week, that took place in October 2017, below...


Sarah Ferrara, Katie Needle/RM Photography

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