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TUSCANY - songs of springtime

3rd-9th April 2019 - FULLY BOOKED

"Happiness?  The color of it must be spring green, impossible to describe until I see a just-hatched lizard sunning on a stone.  That color, the glowing green lizard skin, repeats in every new leaf.   ...  The regenerative power of nature explodes in every weed, stalk, branch.  Working in the mild sun, I feel the green fuse of my body, too. Surges of energy, kaleidoscopic sunlight through the leaves, the soft breeze that makes me want to say the word "zephyr" - this mindless simplicity can be called happiness."
-  Frances, Mayes, Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy, 1999 


April is the month when there Italians come out of hibernation and celebrate the arrival of the longer days and warmer weather. Flower festivals take place in April and the rolling hills burst into bloom with a riot of joyful exuberance. By mid-April the poppies should be flourishing between the vines and the Marguerite daisies starting to appear.

Val d’Orica and Chianti are of course very well known and visited by the masses. And rightly so. Cliches are cliches for a reason - they offer great beauty and everything we fondly associate with Tuscany. We intend to  travel a  little further afield, trying to tease out the lesser-known nooks and crannies of this most beguiling of landscapes. There will still be plenty of opportunity to photograph the gently sculpted hills and lone trees for which the area is so famous.

Of course, we will still be surrounded by breathtaking Tuscan hills, olive groves and vineyards. And we will spend much time ambling around the  winding cobbled alleyways of rustic hilltop villages with their red tiled roofs and golden ochre stone, bleached so beautifully by the sun.  However, in doing so, we will be searching for a personal view of this wonderful place - trying to capture its idyllic charm with our own fresh eyes.

We certainly won’t be hard-pressed to find inspiration, but if creative juices do run  dry,  then perhaps a taste of one of the Super Tuscans will restore our equilibrium. We will visit an internationally acclaimed winery   offering us a tour of the ancient cellars and Medieval castle. Following this we will enjoy  a four course meal. Simple, authentic Tuscan dishes with many of the ingredients coming straight from the estate’s kitchen garden. Not so much a restaurant  - more a kitchen with a winery attached - we are very lucky to be able to enjoy authentic Italian hospitality.

We are very excited to be visiting this area and to have the opportunity to engage on a very personal level with the people living and working here. We very much hope you can join us.






This is the first of a series of workshops  we are launching where the objective is focussed on ideas and development.

We have never been interested in simply chasing tripod hole locations and our current approach reflects that. However we also have an interest in helping people move beyond simply learning creative techniques. Those techniques - like the camera - while important to understand, are not the key to becoming an artist.  That lies in expressing what is inside us in our own very personal way .

So it is our goal that these new ‘Creative Growth’ workshops will have a more intense focus on artistic  development. We want to help you open your mind, to think with greater freedom, develop your own style, forge your own path. It is our hope that they will facilitate your progress as an artist and you will come away creatively invigorated and inspired.

‘Creative Growth’ tours will be a little different to our other workshops. Going out with the camera every day will still be at the heart of our initiative, but we will also set aside a part of each day to deliver presentations designed to stimulate your thinking. We will host group discussions dedicated to pushing creative boundaries and finding ways to progress as an artist. Positive, honest, group critique sessions of your work will feature as will processing demonstrations which will be recorded for you to download later. Some locations will include visits to art collections where we can discuss composition, light, colour and techniques, learning from the art of others.

To facilitate everything we want you to achieve on these tours, we will be selecting very special hotels, preferably those with some connection to the visual arts We will choose properties that can offer us a stimulating environment with an atmosphere conducive to learning, with our own room for the teaching sessions and in locations rich with inspiration.

We hope these tours will excite and creatively invigorate you. As always, we will endeavour to give our all to try and help you achieve your creative goals.



Because the structure of this workshop is slightly different we wanted to ensure we had an artistically inspiring base where we can spend time discussing creative objectives in a comfortable and stimulating environment.

We are extremely excited to be staying at the extraordinarily beautiful Villa Mangiacane.

Designed by none other than Michelangelo and built by the Machiavelli family it is steeped in history and creativity.

The villa is five star luxury - make no mistake - and includes 16th century frescoes, wine cellar, statue garden, olive groves and sweeping views of the Tuscan landscape. It is not too much of an exaggeration to suggest we could easily fill our time at this property and not run out of ideas.

Villa Mangiacane showcases over 220 pieces of original Shona sculpture throughout the property which is currently one of the largest Shona Art collections in Europe. Shona sculpture is widely accepted as the most important art movement to emerge from Africa in the Twentieth Century.

Some images of the villa are appended below - we would urge you to visit their website and see for yourself how much it has to offer.

There are two grades of accommodation - Deluxe and Classic.


3rd - 9th April 2019

PRICING: Our tours are capped at 10 people and so our pricing reflects the smaller group size. Included in the price is a wine tasting at an acclaimed winery, a tour of their grounds and the opportunity to shoot around the castle, which dates back to medieval times. This is followed by a four course traditional Tuscan meal with wine.

The hotel is ideally suited for people wishing to bring non-photographing partners. Please contact us for the supplement for a shared room. From £370 (depending on room grade and excursions taken).

Classic room £2,495.00 (sorry, all sold)

Deluxe room £2,950.00 -  (sorry all sold) 


Bed and breakfast, single accommodation at Villa Mangiacane for six nights.

One three course evening meal with wine and coffee at Villa Mangiane the night we arrive.

Photographic tour of a Tuscan winery situated in a Medieval castle. Wine tasting. A chance to photograph the sweeping views and around the estate at sunset followed by 4 course dinner with wines.

We are also very excited to be visiting another leading Chianti estate with an incredible ongoing art project. We can tour the grounds of the estate and see installations from leading artists such as Anish Kapoor and Hiroshi Sugimoto. Also included is another wine tasting.

All transport including transfers from Bologna airport for flights arriving to coincide with ours.

Max, 10 clients.

Tuition from Valda and Doug.

Presentations on extending creative thinking.



Flights, insurance,

Fitness level - moderate. Gentle walking.

Average temperature 19C

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By booking a workshop and paying a deposit you agree to abide by these terms and conditions. By accepting your booking and deposit, We agree to abide by these terms and conditions.

1. A non-refundable deposit of the amount stated in each tour or workshop description is required at the time of booking.

2. The balance of the tour/workshop price is due a month prior to the departure date. Should this final payment fail to reach us by the date specified, we reserve the right to treat the booking as cancelled and retain the deposit. If a booking is made a month or less prior to the departure date then the full amount is payable at the time of booking.

3. Any cancellation by the client must be made in writing, emails are acceptable. The date on which the letter or email is received by us will determine the cancellation charges applicable. These charges are expressed as a percentage of the total workshop price, and are as follows: 56 – 42 days before departure 50%; 41 – 28 days before departure 75%; 27 days or less before departure 100%. PLEASE NOTE; See clause 14 below regarding travel insurance.

If a client wishes to cancel a booking and transfer the deposit/payment to another tour we are happy to accommodate this request as long as the empty place can be re-sold. An admin charge of £100 will be made.

4. The receipt of a deposit does not imply acceptance of a booking. The PayPal automatically generated receipt does NOT imply acceptance of a booking. We will confirm our acceptance of your booking by email, and it is at the time we send out this confirmation that a contract comes into existence between us. Please DO NOT book any hotels or make any other travel bookings until you have had this email confirmation from us (NOT PayPal). If we are unable to confirm the booking, even though you have had an email from PayPal confirming your payment, we will not be liable for any other costs you have incurred. We will refund in full your PayPal payment. This is because rarely multiple bookings are placed through the website outsell a workshop before the bookings can be closed. At our discretion an administration charge of £100 may be made for alterations or amendments to a booking. The transfer of a booking from one workshop to another is at our discretion, if made more than 57 days prior to departure, it may also incur a fee of £20. The intention to transfer should be notified in writing, emails are acceptable. At 56 days or less before departure cancellation fees will also apply (see clause 3 above).

5. We reserve the right to alter or cancel any tour or workshop. Should an alteration or cancellation become necessary, you will then have the choice of accepting the change, taking an alternative tour or workshop (and where this is of a lower price we will refund the difference), or withdrawing from the contract and accepting a refund of all monies paid to us. For the avoidance of doubt, as we are not party to any flight, accommodation or train bookings or car hire you make yourself and have received no payment for the same, we will not refund the costs of these in the event of holiday cancellation. You are referred to clause 14 below and clause 4 above.

6. Under booking is the situation in which the minimum number of bookings required to run a workshop is not met, and if we have to cancel a workshop for this reason, we will not do so less than 10 days prior to departure. Force majeure is unusual and unforeseeable circumstances beyond our control, such as war or the threat of war, riots, terrorist activity, civil strife, industrial disputes, natural or nuclear disaster, fire, flood or adverse weather conditions.

7. In the event of the specified tutor being unable to attend due to illness or other circumstances beyond our control, another tour leader may be provided. If this is not possible, then the tour or workshop will be cancelled and the provisions of clause 5 will come into effect.

8. We reserve the right to change any of the prices, service or other particulars of a tour or workshop at any time before we enter into contract with you. If there is any change, we will notify you before we enter into such contract.

9. If you have special dietary or other requests, you should inform us of these prior to departure. We cannot guarantee that such requests will be met, and will have no liability to you if such requests are not met.

10. The type of tours and workshops we offer require flexibility and must allow for alternatives. For this reason the outline itinerary and tour/workshop description must be taken as an indication of what may take place on the tour or workshop, and not as a contractual obligation on the part of the company.

11. We do not accept liability for any loss or additional expense caused by delay or interruption to travel services through weather conditions, civil disturbance, industrial action, strikes, wars, floods or sickness. Such losses or additional expenses are the responsibility of the passenger. We will not accept liability for loss or damage to any of your personal belongings, including but not limited to camera and computer equipment, peripherals, mobile phones, baggage, clothing, documents, monies, credit cards, travel documents and so on. See clause 14 below.

12. We accept responsibility for acts and /or omissions of our employees (whilst acting in the course of their employment). The Company does not accept responsibility or liability for death, bodily injury or illness caused to the client or any other person included on the booking, unless arising from the negligent act and/or omission of the Company’s employees (whilst acting in the course of their employment). Any claims shall be subject to English law in respect of any question of liability or quantum, and all proceedings shall be within the exclusive domain of the English courts.

13. The client must communicate any perceived failure in the performance of this contract on the spot to the workshop leader thus giving the workshop leader the opportunity to achieve a satisfactory solution. Should this not be possible, you should make your complaint known to us in writing within 28 days of the completion of the tour or workshop.

14. It is a term of the contract between us that you will obtain the appropriate travel insurance cover before you set out on the tour or workshop (whether abroad or in this country). The insurance must cover the loss, expenses and damages arising from, including but not limited to, the cancellation of the tour or workshop (whether in whole or in part), personal accident and injury, medical and repatriation costs (for overseas tours), loss of baggage and personal money and belongings and flight cancellations and delays.

15. All clients must be in possession of a valid passport and all visas, permits and certificates, including medical certificates required for the whole of the journey and the client accepts responsibility for obtaining the same. All information and advice given by us on visas, vaccinations, climate, clothing, baggage, special equipment etc is given in good faith.

16. Bookings for anyone under 18 years of age must be made by their parent or legal guardian. No one under 16 years of age may join a workshop with us, except by special arrangement with and being accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who needs to pay the full workshop fee themselves also.

17. It is the customers responsibility to arrive at locations at the arranged time and with appropriate equipment, footwear and clothing. The customer needs to be healthy enough to participate in the workshop. If the customers vehicle breaks down, his transport arrangements fail for any reason or if the customer fails to arrive at a destination for any reason whatsoever the workshop must proceed without them for the benefit of the other paying customers.

18. The weather is out of our control. In poor weather every effort will be made to find a suitable location to continue the workshop or to take a break until it passes. If very poor weather is forecast in advance we reserve the right to contact the group and reschedule or cancel the workshop. If this happens you will have the chance to accept the rescheduled date or accept a credit towards a future workshop of your choice to the value of the cancelled workshop.

19. If we offer our own equipment to you on loan on a workshop it is not covered by our insurance. By accepting the loan of the equipment, if it is damaged (however minor the damage) or stolen, you promise to pay immediately its full new replacement value direct to us so we can replace the item or items from a supplier of our choice who has the item or items in stock to ensure we can continue to pursue our business. If the item is no longer manufactured this clause applies to the latest new item from the manufacturer even if the value of this item is considerably higher.

20. You are responsible for your own car parking fees, fines, and all other fees and expenses not directly and clearly specified as being included in the cost of the workshop.You are also wholly responsible for the safety of your vehicle, property, personal safety and camera equipment.

21. If you book any workshop or tour listed on this website but booked through or run by any other photographer, individual, broker or company is subject to their terms and conditions and your contract is wholly with them. Any issues arising from such a booking must be taken up with them directly. We are bound by their terms and conditions and have no influence over them.

22. We reserve the right to refuse any booking without giving a reason.

23. It is this copy of our terms and conditions on the website which is current, in force and to which you and we are bound. All other copies in any other format and location are not binding.

24. By making a booking, you are agreeing to accept all the above conditions. Any person making a booking does so on behalf of all the individuals included in it, so that all are bound by the booking conditions.

25. Although our locations are always selected with safety in mind, we urge clients to check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice  page for reassurance.

Last updated 24.10.18

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