Photography Course in Italy

Unleash creativity and hone photography skills whilst enjoying culinary delights and superb wines with newfound friends in the stunning ancient hill towns and olive groves of Tuscany.

Spectacular vistas, ancient mediaeval hamlets, lush olive groves, and perfect light are just a few of many excellent reasons why learning photography in Tuscany makes perfect sense. Spend a delightful five days in Cortona and the surrounding countryside soaking up ‘La Dolce Vita’ whilst building an impressive photographic portfolio.

wine tasting on photography holiday in italy

The Photography Holiday in Tuscany

Lillie partners with her good friend Charlie Mitford for the photography workshop vacations. Charlie is an exceptionally accomplished event and vacation planner who’s enviably well connected and lives with her family in a corner of paradise in nearby Montanare.

The Tuscan town of Cortona, perched on the edge of the foot hills of the Apennines, offers heart-stopping views over the Val di Chiana to Montepulciano and is a must visit for any traveller in Italy.

Cortona’s Estruscan origins may still be seen in the original parts of the city walls built 2,000 years ago of hewn Pietra Serena stone blocks. Wander Mediaeval streets where you discover wonderful local Trattorias and enjoy the famous Chianina steak with a divine Cortonese wine!

Get involved and document the wonderful Summer and Autumn Festas that we attend – The Cortona Medieval Festival in May and in October, the Pierle Sagra della Castagna  & the Fratticiolla Country Festival. The average amount of sunshine in October has consistently outperformed May over the past 10 years!

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The Photography and Tuition

Lillie has taught photography for the past 10 years holding many courses for leading institutions such as the Photographers Gallery, The Nikon School and for her own photography tuition business. In addition her degree in Photojournalism combined with her experience as a professional photographer make her the perfect tutor for our Photography holidays in Italy.

Lillie will hold four daily morning workshops that will focus primarily on composition and camera mechanics. The rest of the day will be spent practically photographing the wonderful landscapes and scenes.

One morning will be an early start to capture the sunrise and serene early light. The local weather will be monitored and a decision on which morning will be made once the holiday is in progress.

Confidence is key and Lillie firmly believes that this will bloom once practical composition and camera mechanics are firmly grasped. There’s no better way to do this than immersion in beautiful surroundings with like-minded people on a relaxed, fun holiday.

photography cortona

Photographic Information covered

1. The exposure triangle: aperture, shutter and ISO.
Learn how to take great photographs through understanding camera exposure. Each day will cover a different photographic subject and our students will learn how to use their camera settings to capture the different subjects. Learning how aperture effects their field of focus, blurring the backgrounds for their street portraits, and how to effectively capture all the details in their Tuscan landscape photographs. We will work in low light situations, helping our students to understand how using ISO will affect their images.

Aperture settings for portraits and landscapes

Shutter speed for capturing motion during events and panning Italian street scenes

ISO for taking great photos of the medieval chiesa’s and buildings that don’t allow flash

2. The functions on each student’s camera and how to use them.

Students will be encouraged to use different settings for different types of photographs, enabling them to choose the correct setting for the type of photograph they will take. Learning how to control their white balance in artificial light and additionally how to lock their focus…great for use whilst photographing a local Festa! Black and white photography will be used to great effect giving those Italian scenes an added romanticism. Students will finish the course with a great understanding of their cameras functionality and confident to create their own great photos.

3. Composition “rules” and ideas.

Each day we will look at famous photographers work inspiring our students to go out and capture their own great images. Through assessing great work, our students will master the different composition rules used to create each type of photography.

4. Light, where to look for it and how to make it.

You will learn how to control light in the camera through the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Lillie will explain how to use shade, direct and indirect light to their advantage with great tips on searching for the correct natural light whilst on location. The use of flash photography will also be explained and students will have the chance to make use of it for their portraits and interior work.

5. Approach: how to create projects that will take each student’s work to the next level.

In the afternoons, Lillie will tutor and guide students as they practice enhanced skills in the spectacular countryside and quaint towns that surround Cortona.

Each afternoon provides a different delightful setting to practice the skills learnt in the morning workshops. Lillie will be on hand throughout to assist students, helping to refine their search for the perfect image whilst finding the correct light on location to capture.

“I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the Cortona trip and to send you and Charlie a very big ‘thank you’. The organisation was fantastic, the locations were superb and your photography tuition excellent… Thank you again for putting together such a fun packed and informative 5 days.”

Ian – Guildford

“A wonderful time in a wonderful place. Cortona is everything you dream Tuscany should be, the history, landscape, food and people. I loved the excursions into the country wilds. Perfect to combine this with Lillie’s tuition. She made time for me which really made it so worthwhile. Can’t wait to do it again…”

Gail – New York, US

Why choose a Lillian Spibey Photography holiday in Italy?

A photography holiday in Italy is a wonderful experience; a Lillian Spibey Photography Holiday in Italy, planned by Lillian Spibey and Charlie Mitford, is the experience of a lifetime. These two friends and colleagues have lived, photographed and enjoyed the Italian lifestyle for many years and are eager to introduce you to la bella vita – along with first-class, Lillian Spibey Photography tuition.

Lillian Spibey Photography has offered photography holidays in Italy since 2015. Both Lillie and Charlie fully embrace the local Tuscan and Umbrian cultures and have created an unforgettable experience for photography holiday guests. Charlie has lived, worked, explored, socialized and brought up a family in Tuscany for the past 18 years. She speaks fluent Italian, and is enviably well-connected with an address book crammed with local politicians, restaurateurs, hoteliers, aristocrats, and most importantly, the contadini (farmers!). Lillie lived as a local while studying and working as a photographer in Perugia, Rome, and Cortona, where she met her husband.

Even locals are amazed at the access accorded to the holiday guests. For many years, Charlie and her husband, Paul, an estate agent, and Lillie and her husband, Daniel, a property investor, explored every farm track from Arezzo in the north, Siena in the west, and Perugia in the south in search of tumbled ruins for renovation. The two couples’ resultant knowledge of the area is exceptional; in fact, Charlie has an uncanny gift for finding and gaining access to locations that are so far off the tourist trail that to all intents and purposes they don’t exist!

“The evenings spent dining and enjoying fine local wine and the days exploring new locations for photography are as much fun for us as they are for our guests!”Lillie and Charlie


ITALY – and the experience of a lifetime with LILLIAN SPIBEY PHOTOGRAPHY – is waiting! Cameras ready!

The Accommodation

Location, location, location… Hotel Italia has all three! Spend four nights in this luxurious 15th Century converted Palazzo in the center of Cortona a stones throw from the main square, Piazza della Republica.

A hearty breakfast from locally sourced foods will be served in the terrace restaurant, whilst you enjoy breathtaking Val di Chiana views from Lago Trasimeno and Montepulciano to the Senesi hills.

Cortona photography course hotel

La belvedere… The 4 star Hotel San Luca has incredible views from every room! Wake up every morning with a vista to Montepulciano spilling into your room from your own balcony. Hotel San Luca is situated in Piazza Garibaldi, a short, level 3 min walk to Piazza Repubblica or the beautiful public gardens in the opposite direction.

A hearty breakfast from locally sourced foods will be served in the terrace restaurant, whilst you enjoy breathtaking Val di Chiana views from Lago Trasimeno and Montepulciano to the Senesi hills.

Both Hotel Italia & Hotel San Luca’s central locations, views and delicious locally sourced food provide a lifelong memorable experience. All rooms are delightfully furnished with air conditioning for your comfort.

“I had a wonderful time in Cortona. This is a great course for all levels. It was relaxed and fun with plenty of lovely food and wine from the local area. The group was a great mix of people from all walks of life. We had plenty of time to play around with different settings on our cameras as well as visiting some very interesting places in and around the local area, which has a very rich history.”

Chrissy – Norfolk

“Thank you for such a great time in Italy. I know how much work it is to put things like that together so a huge thank you to you and Charlie for making it all so much fun, so interesting and so seemingly effortless. I had a great time.”

Ann & Julian – Leatherhead


*Scheduled airport pickup and drop off from Perugia airport (Cortona is easily accessible from Rome and Pisa airports via train and we can provide adhoc pickup from Cortona station). Unscheduled airport transfers can be organised at an extra cost.

*All scheduled journeys throughout the stay (photography excursions and other trips)
*4 nights single room occupancy with private bathroom at Hotel Italia or Hotel San Luca in Cortona (doubles available).
*All breakfasts including morning coffee at the hotel.
*3 evening dinners + wine.
*4 lunches + wine (including 2 packed lunches).
*Wine tasting evening.
*All photography tuition (including morning workshops, other tuitorials, tuition when on excursion)
*A professional guided historic tour of Cortona town centre and museum.


This holiday is being priced economically, as Italy is a passion for Lillie and she sees this as an opportunity to retain this delightful region in her life.
The 4 day vacation will be priced at £1,500 ($1800) based on 1 person in a double room (not sharing) inclusive of workshops, meals and tours. Flights not included.
2 people sharing a double room and both attending the photography courses will be £1,300 ($1580) per person.

Other configurations include sharing without attending the photography course and family accommodation. These can be priced on request.


From the UK:

Ryanair fly from Stansted to Perugia daily in the summer. Multiple airlines including Ryanair and Easyjet fly from different UK airports daily into Pisa and Rome.

From the US:

There are direct flights from most major US cities to Rome daily, onward flight connections can be made to Perugia. Regular trains run from Rome to Cortona. We can provide pickups from Perugia Airport and Cortona/Terontola train stations. Please contact us for any queries.


You may want to extend your stay in Cortona and Tuscany. We completely understand if you’d like to take more time to relax in such a divine location or explore Tuscany and the surrounding towns. If you’re travelling from the US then a longer vacation could well be in order! Perhaps you’d like to tour the wonderful vineyards, visit Florence, Siena or Perugia, or walk the ancient trails to a hill top medieval village.  We can help you book accommodation, organise your itinerary and offer some helpful insights on where and what to see. Don’t hesitate to contact us for help


Ring Lillie Now 07969466572

Email Lillie


Adventures from our Italy 2019 Trip


Previous Italian Trips

Adventures from our previous photography workshop holidays in Italy.


Ring Lillie Now 07969466572

Email Lillie