Tuscany: September 2019

The Next Step: A Retreat for Photographers in Tuscany

INSTRUCTORS: Carol Panaro-Smith & James Hajicek of Alchemy Studio with special guest, Mary Virginia Swanson

WHEN: September 24th – October 2nd, 2019

WHERE: Villa San Rocco, Benabbio, Italy

WHO: For photographers who seek a deeper understanding of their creative process as they prepare to present their work to a broader audience. Acceptance by application and portfolio only, details below.

TUITION: $3,275 private room | $2,975 shared room
(Includes housing, meals and local transportation, details below)

Imagine 7 days, nestled in a rambling Baroque villa in a medieval town surrounded by chestnut forests in the hills of Tuscany. What better setting to immerse yourself in a supportive community of faculty and peers and focus entirely on your creative process.

Group critiques, informative visual presentations and individual meetings with faculty are designed to help you further understand your work and prepare it for presentation to a wider audience.

During the workshop you will:

  • Develop skills in editing and sequencing your work into a cohesive body of images
  • Engage in group critiques designed to help you see, distill, and focus your creative work
  • Become savvy on the markets for fine photographs today
  • Gain greater understanding on how to present yourself and your work

In addition, each participant will have an individual critique with Carol & James to further distill and refine a body of work and meet with Mary Virginia to identify supportive audiences and venues for your projects.

Each evening we will dine around a communal table for memorable meals and further discuss the topics of the day.

Throughout the week there will be opportunities for you to photograph in our beautiful Tuscan mountaintop village and neighboring forest. We have also set aside a day to visit the historic city of Lucca for a refreshing day of sightseeing, and bicycle ride around the town on its famous Renaissance-era intact city walls.


JAMES HAJICEK is a Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University where he taught fine art photography for 34 years. As a practicing artist his area of specialization is late 19th century photographic printing processes.

CAROL PANARO-SMITH has held a number of positions both as a teacher and arts administrator throughout the Phoenix area for over 30 years. Some highlights in her career include establishing Alchemy Studio, a working and teaching studio in Phoenix and Program Director & Curator of Art Intersection in Gilbert, Arizona.

Together, Carol and James have spent decades mentoring artists. Their seminars on taking your work to the next level have helped numerous artists accomplish their goals of project completion, exhibitions and/or gallery representation. The works that they create in their own collaborative artistic practice are in numerous public and private collections throughout the world. Website: alchemy-studio.net | Instagram: @alchemystudio_az

MARY VIRGINIA SWANSON is an educator and author who guides artists to find the strengths in their work, identify appropriate audiences, and present their work in a professional, informed manner. Her broad background in the photography industry encompasses the fine art, editorial, commercial and licensing arenas, bringing an important range of perspectives on both the making and marketing of art to her students and clients.   Swanson’s workshops on marketing opportunities have proven to aid photographers in advancing their careers. She is based in Tucson, Arizona and New York City. Instagram: @maryvirginiaswanson

Tuition Fee

  • 7 Spaces available with private room and en suite bath at $3275
  • 4 Spaces available with shared room/shared bath at $2975
  • Couples sharing a room and bed at $2975 per person

What’s included:

  • Pick up and return to the Florence airport. Airfare to and from Florence, Italy not included.
  • 7 full days and 8 nights at the Villa San Rocco, a Baroque villa with 11 bedrooms with en suite bathrooms. The villa itself is a photographer’s dream with eclectic rooms, period furniture and the most beautiful light that has been inspirational since the Renaissance. (Private rooms are booked in order of requests)
  • All meals are included both at the villa and when we dine together at local restaurants. The food is glorious in this region of Italy – local cheeses, cured meats, porcini mushrooms, truffles, honey, the freshest fruit and vegetables and of course PASTA in every shape and form. Every morning there’s a hot loaf of whole grain home-made bread on the table with local butter & jams. The coffee, tea and cappuccinos flow all day and the local wine comes out promptly at happy hour. In the villa a well-stocked kitchen is available to you 24/7 if hunger or thirst strikes between meals. We are happy to accommodate any dietary restrictions.
  • An all-day, all-inclusive trip to the nearby medieval walled town of Lucca

Application Procedure

This experience has been created for photographers who seek a deeper understanding of their creative process as they prepare to present their work to a broader audience.  Accepted photographers should be prepared to share at least one body of work that is in progress or nearing completion, and be ready to find an appreciative audience for this work.

Email carol@alchemy-studio.net to receive an application and detailed instructions.

Important dates

  • November 12, 2018: The review of applications will begin and will continue until the workshop is filled.
  • Notice of acceptance will be sent within 2 weeks following the review of your application.
  • Within 10 days of Acceptance, a $500 deposit will be required to secure your place in this workshop. You will be sent additional and more detailed information after receiving your deposit.
  • The remaining balance will be due July 15, 2019.

Cancellation Policy

  • All deposits and payments will be refunded in full if the workshop does not make minimum enrollment and is cancelled.
  • If you cancel before March 15th: 100% of deposit less $50 administrative fee will be refunded.
  • If you cancel before July 15th: 90% of tuition will be refunded.
  • If you cancel within 4 weeks of start of workshop refunds will be offered only if your space can be filled.

Adjustments to the above policies can be made if cancellation is the result of immediate personal or family emergencies.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers