Piedmont. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2016 all rights reserved

A vinyard growing young grapes, Piedmont. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2016 all rights reserved

Exploring Piedmont Through Photography 13-20 October 2016

We invite photographers of any ability to join us on an inclusive five-day course which will help you to develop your photography skills in the beautiful province of Piedmont in northern Italy.

You will be led and taught by acclaimed Scottish documentary photographer Colin McPherson, who will pass on his knowledge of shooting stories and features for most of the world’s top newspapers and magazines. You will learn how to visually narrate stories about the people, places and pastimes of the Langhe region and Monferrato hills. Local expert Andy Groom will be on hand each day to guide us through this corner of Piedmont, and our programme of events will introduce you to many of the aspects of life which make this one of the most fascinating parts of Italy to photograph.

We will document a variety of subjects, all set against the stunning landscapes and historic towns which make this region famous for such things as truffles, wine and hazelnuts. Harvests and festivals play a central role in the culture and economy of the Langhe region and Monferrato hills and we will discover such things as how truffles are hunted and sold, how grapes are grown and wine is made, how artisan cheese is made is produced and how the hazelnuts are harvested.

Many of the age-old practices have remained unchanged for generations and as well as photographing life and work, there will be plenty of opportunities to stop and sample the best of local produce as we go along. The famous Slow Food movement was started in Piedmont three decades ago and the region still benefits from a gentle pace of life with an emphasis of good quality in a beautiful environment. Piedmont is home to many famous types of wine, such as Barolo and is the province which gives the world the famous Ferrero Roche chocolates.

Getting to- and from Piedmont is straightforward with good transport links via four international airports within two hours travel. Accommodation on the course will be provided in a superbly-appointed, traditional 200-year-old hill-top cascina, or farmhouse, surrounded by vineyards and with views to the Alps to the west and the Langhe and Monferrato hills.

Over the duration of the course, we will endeavour to develop and enhance your ability to comprehend what turns a set of images into a story. We will look at how to select subjects to photograph, how to choose locations and use ambient light and landscape to complement your pictures and how to edit a series of photographs to create a stunning and personalised narrative of a subject. The emphasis will be on creative ways of enhancing your existing knowledge of photography and looking at practical ways which can bring your images to a new level.

Colin McPherson has been a photojournalist and documentary photographer for over a quarter of a century, and has travelled much of the globe covering major news, features and sports stories for the world’s most influential publications. He is widely exhibited and his work is held in important archives and collections. He is a founder member of the Document Scotland collective and works on long-term project in colour and monochrome and in analogue and digital mediums.

The course is designed to accommodate people of all levels and skills of photography. As long as you are confident handling your camera and happy to participate in a group activity, we would love to work with you. Andy Groom’s connection with the Langhe region and Monferrato hills goes back over a decade and he is well connected with local life having lived and worked in the region since 2005. He will be our eyes and ears and has designed an itinerary which is both visually stimulating and chosen to show off the best of this corner of northern Italy. The accommodation comprises of double bedrooms or single occupancy twin bedrooms, either with en suite or with shared bathroom facilities. There are generous public spaces and plenty of room inside and outside the cascina to relax in the warm autumn sunshine.

Our programme involves daily trips to activities and local landmarks, where we will learn about the Langhe and Monferrato hills and put together photo stories. The course is not strenuous, but requires dedication and patience to get the best from what the area has to offer. The weather in autumn is pleasant, dry and warm and we will ensure you have adequate time to enjoy your surroundings whilst making your images.

All tuition, accommodation, transport within Piedmont and meals are provided. Breakfast will be continental style, lunch will be a picnic as we’ll be out-and-about most days, whilst the evening meal will be at one of the numerous local trattoria, all serving delicious and wholesome Italian food. These items will be provided as part of the course fee, but all other spending, such as on alcohol and any personal items, will be at your own discretion.

To book on the course, please get in touch. Places are limited to four participants to ensure everyone is catered for on an individual basis. All you have to do is get yourself and your camera to Italy and we’ll do the rest.

We look forward to welcoming you!

Sample programme for seven-day course starting on 13 October:

Day 1 Arrive at an airport of your choosing in either Milan or Turin.

Transfer to Moasca, introductions and briefing and evening meal.

Day two AM Introduction to visual storytelling and narrative: how can we make our camera express the things we want to say? A practical guide to enhancing your photography skills with practical tips and looking at some of the best examples of storytelling using images. We will look at how you research and plan in advance and what to expect when you arrive on location to photograph.

PM Visit to Santa Stefano Belbo vinyard. This visit will allow us to meet the people who make wine at a typical local winery and get ideas and take some pictures. We’ll also get to sample some of the wonderful wine produced by Marco and his team.

Day three All day Return to Santa Stefano Belbo vineyard and spend the day exploring and photographing. We’ll see all the different aspects of wine making and production during this pivotal harvesting time. There will be landscapes, people and produce to focus on – and a story to tell.

Day four AM Feedback, evaluation and editing. We’ll look at the images from the previous day at Santa Stefano Belbo and talk through some practical editing and selection ideas to bring your images together into a beautiful set of photographs which tell your story.

PM Visit to a typical local festival. We’ll spend the afternoon amongst the crowds where we will soak up the sights and sounds and photograph a different side of the Langhe region: people at play.

Day five AM Truffle hunting. We’ll go for a gentle guided walk around the gentle Monferrato hills looking for one of the iconic delicacies of the Langhe region. This will allow us to enjoy the beautiful rural aspect locally, whilst adding an interesting component to the story of the region.

PM We’ll look at our work from the festival and truffle hunting and fit it in with the previous work we have made on the trip so far. We’ll also plan out final excursion, a trip to the stunning medieval town of Monrovia, where we’ll set ourselves the challenge of producing images which could be put together a small travel feature.

Day six All day A visit to Mondovi. Founded on a hilltop in 1198 by survivors of the destroyed village of Bredolo, Mondovi is located on the Monte Regale hill and is divided into several rioni (ancient quarters). The Funicolare di Mondovì, a recently reopened funicular railway in the town, links Breo with Piazza. We will return to Moasca late in the afternoon for a final look at our images and round-up of what we have learned over the five days.

The cost for this experience is £1600 per person. Please get in touch if you would like to book on or have any other questions. Thank you!

Piedmont. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2016 all rights reserved

Evening in the vinyards, Piedmont. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2016 all rights reserved

A man at work, Piedmont. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2016 all rights reserved

A man at work, Piedmont. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2016 all rights reserved

The Alps, as viewed from Piedmont. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2016 all rights reserved

The Alps, as viewed from Piedmont. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2016 all rights reserved

Mondovi, Piedmont. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2016 all rights reserved

Mondovi, Piedmont. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2016 all rights reserved

The farmhouse at Moasca, Piedmont. Photograph © Andy Groom, 2016 all rights reserved

The farmhouse at Moasca, Piedmont. Photograph © Andy Groom, 2016 all rights reserved

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