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Viterbo: The Story

That’s my wife, Jill Enfield, taking a shadow photo of the two of us, in Viterbo, a preserved Walled City from Medieval times, about 60 miles NW of Rome. Check your history books, or history websites, to learn more about this picturesque locale, that during the 12th and 13th century, was the center of the Papal community. Clearly Viterbo was a wealthy town where the Popes and other aristocrats tributed themselves and their circles with spectacular buildings, parks, churches, piazzas, statues and other grand gestures. To this day all of it still exists in its original form and the townspeople are committed to keeping it that way. It is even better because within 20 minutes to an hour from Viterbo are a number of other destinations that were the place to go back then, for the Popes to keep themselves busy, and these wonderful communities are also available for the passionate photographer. Tourists ignore most of the places beyond Rome, Florence and other Italian cities that are popular destinations to Americans, which is good for us, so lets just keep this just between the 15,000 of us. That way our workshop stays on the less expensive side and we won’t have to worry about hordes of travelers messing up the photos.

Back when I was at a large publishing firm, overseeing the magazines, American Photo and Popular Photography, (1992 or so, until 2006), Jill and I traveled to lots of great places in the U.S. and abroad, to run workshops which were announced in the magazines for the readers to purchase as a travel and photography lesson experience. Jill has a pretty big following in the world of photography. Check her website out at or search her on, to see her pair of 2 minute videos on Wet Plate Collodion Portraiture. In fact, we know lots of great photographers and have traveled with them for these workshops to lots of places. We have shadow photos of about 30 trips, from Frederick, Maryland, where I organized our own fireworks display for the the attendees to shoot, to Ireland where we arranged portrait shoots of Pulitzer prize winner, Frank McCourt who wrote Angela’s Ashes. Did some great environmental shoots with a sheepherder and his Border Collie as well. Unforgettable. So we have lots and lots of shadow photos from around the country and around the world. Since our 2 daughters were frequently with us on these photo workshops around the world, they are in a lot of the shadow photos too. In fact, now 17 and 20, they take their own shadow photos, on their own travel experiences. (A shadow photo website one day maybe?)

Anyway, for this shadow photo, Jill and I actually were in Viterbo, because of our daughter, Sally. Sally, with the travel bug that we planted in her, almost at birth, decided that high school would be more interesting if she experienced it in Viterbo, instead of where we live in NYC. She found School Year Abroad, (, and back in August 2010, she began her junior year. SYA is wonderful, a non-profit program, not nearly as expensive as one would think, that finances 6 campuses around the world including, Italy, Japan, China, Vietnam, Spain and France. We have not been to the other SYA campuses, but we did fall in love with Viterbo, and have decided that we should begin the Digital Photo Academy experience abroad there. So come this fall, we are inviting all of you alumni to join us. We are thinking that we should set the trips up to take place, from around September 16 to October 18th, allowing 15 or 20 to join each back-to-back 8-day experience. When visiting Sally back in January we got to know her host family as well as a dozen or so of the other 47 host families where Sally’s classmates live. They all suggested the fall for the trips since the place comes alive with change of season colors. They have also been more than friendly and hospitable, inviting us to make photo shoots in the places they own or know the owners. Each day, we will have DPA teachers lead and instruct photo shoots with private access to historic monasteries preserved from hundreds of years ago, as well as country estates that sit above panoramic views of greenery, peppered with Etruscan ruins. At our convenience are luxurious restaurants where we can bring our lighting gear to shoot macro images of deliciously and beautifully prepared dishes and portraits of the chefs and interior shots of the rooms. Twenty minutes away is the Terme dei Papai,  a private spa that is not to be believed. Even the locals are friendly and happy to pose. Check out the snapshots,throughout this landing page, that we all took when we were there visiting Sally this past January. Even the grey skies at that time did not stop us from having a memorable experience.

And since some of the classes will focus beyond the many variations of still photography, on the videos that the new SLR’s can take, we have a special feature to tie into the moving images theme. We are inviting lecturers from the motion picture world to talk about the art of making movies. Tying in with Italy, we have connected with Lisa Grootenbroer, one of the photo editors of the Showtime Series, Borgias, with Jeremy Irons, about the 16th century in and around Rome, when Pope Alexander IV’s lived and ran things with a mighty hand. Most of the tv show centers on Rome, but if you come to Viterbo you might agree that all of it could have been filmed in Viterbo. Lisa will give a couple of morning lectures about editing before we go off to our shoots. Roberto Schaeffer, Director of Photography for the Daniel Craig/James Bond movies has also e-mailed us to let us know how excited he is to join us and share stories and lessons of his shoots in Italy for the Bond Series. (He also was the DP for Finding Neverland and Monster′s Ball. He lived in Italy for 10 years so he should be a great inspiration.

So look through the photos herein, e-mail us at with your questions. Maybe you will come along? Keep an eye out for Frequently Asked Questions – a link comign soon! In the meantime e-mail to the link above.


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