Las Alpujarras, Spain – La Estrellita

Mindful Photography in Las Alpujarras

Join us in the wonderful Alpujarras of Spain for our “Joy of Seeing” photography workshop. There is no better place we know in which to introduce you to our mindful, photographer-centred approach.

Las Alpujarras form the foothills of Spain’s highest mountains, the Sierra Nevada, where white Andalucian villages dot the hillsides under cobalt skies and dazzling light. Situated between the Moorish city of Granada and the Costa Tropical, protected by coastal ranges, this is one of the sunniest climates in Europe.

Our base is at La Estrellita,  a beautiful, self-catering villa in Órgiva, the western gateway and principal town in the area, conveniently placed for easy excursions to the higher mountain villages and wild valleys.

This week provides an an easy mix of mindful photography work, relaxation and seeing this delightful area of Spain.

What to Expect

Our week is a mix of learning together, exploring the Ariège and simply relaxing, being with each other.

On the first morning, we introduce our Joy of Seeing approach and Mindful Photography. During the week we build on the ideas with simple and fun exercises and sometimes assignments to suit you.

Most days feature a local excursion or easy walk, followed by sharing images in the early evening pre-dinner. Sharing and discussing our images is one of the most important activities and distinguishes our approach from many other workshops.

Thursday is a free day, enabling you to explore at your leisure.

This is a holiday first and foremost, so we will not be working dawn to dusk. There will be ample time for you to enjoy just being in this most beautiful and inspiring place.

I will be on hand to offer guidance in any visual or technical aspect of photography, and to guide our sharing and critique sessions, but I will not take you all to the same tripod holes or tell you what to point your camera at – seeing is unique to you.

At a Glance

Forthcoming Dates

No current dates

Investment

£tbc

Includes

  • 7 nights’ accommodation
  • All meals except for two lunches and one evening meal at local restaurants
  • Photography coaching on six days

Does Not Include

  • Flights / travel to Andalucía
  • Transportation in la Alpujarra
  • Your personal travel and liability insurances

Group Size

Eight max

Duration

7 nights

Booking Info

Booking for this course is made directly with us. Forms and information will be made available when we have our next dates.

Accommodation – Villa La Estrellita

La Estrellita is a peaceful and characterful four bedroom villa built around a large shaded courtyard, with an expansive private garden and pool. The gardens feature orange, lemon and olive trees, and superb mountain views. Inside and out, the decor has Moorish, Indian and French farmhouse influences and an abundance of eclectic and photogenic artefacts.

Opposite is a small casita where our staff will be based, with extensive grounds offering additional space for our groupwork and exploration.

La Estrellita is a five minute drive / 15 minute walk from Órgiva, the main town of La Alpujarra. It offers a great compromise between rural quiet and easy access, both to the town and to attractions in the locality. We have exclusive use of the villa during our week.

Accommodation

La Estrellita can sleep up to eight in four bedrooms. This means that we can accommodate:

  • Four couples (in one twin room and three double rooms)
  • Three couples in (three sharing double rooms) and two singles (sharing twin room)
  • Up to five singles (four in own rooms, or three singles and two sharing a twin room)

None of the bedrooms have en-suite bathroom facilities. The main shared bathroom features atmospheric lighting, a large walk-in shower, roll-top bath and toilet. The second shared bathroom in the main house has a shower and toilet.

Meals

Our menu is based on local Spanish speciality food, simple and hearty. It is largely vegetarian, with some chicken and fish dishes and often a selection of embutidos (cured meat such as chorizo and jamón) available with our tapas lunches.

One lunch is taken at a local restaurant. On your free day too, you can choose to eat lunch out and we always share one restaurant meal in the evening.

Las Alpujarras

There is no better place we know in which to introduce you to our photography approach.

Las Alpujarras form the foothills of Spain’s highest mountains, the Sierra Nevada, where white Andalucian villages dot the hillsides under cobalt skies and dazzling light.

Órgiva, with its beautiful twin-spired church, is an eclectic mix of working Spain and retreat location, attracting ex-pats from all over Europe.  It sits at an altitude of 450 metres in the fertile Guadalféo valley surrounded by sweeping mountain slopes blanketed with olive, lemon and orange groves. Above Órgiva are the sleepy white villages of the Alpujarra Alta.

For many the area will come alive as the location for Chris Stewart’s book “Driving Over Lemons”.

Our exploration takes in local walks in and around Órgiva and a day in the high villages. And on our spring programme, we are often fortunate to catch the fantastic and noisy pre-Easter festival of Al Señor de la Expiración.

Gallery

2008_366277 - Capileira Rooftops

Photography FAQ

What experience do I need?

These workshops are suitable for photographers of all levels of experience.

  • If you are a beginner then it will be helpful to be familiar with the important features of your camera and some knowledge of the core principles of exposure, and depth of field.
  • If you are a seasoned enthusiast, then maybe a change of scenery and a fresh outlook could be the catalyst for a whole new phase in your creative work. Our “ rediscover the joy of seeing” approach could be the perfect creative tonic.

For those with some experience of mindfulness, this workshop is a basic introduction.

Is this workshop suitable for me?

That depends to a degree on your motivation.

Do be aware that we are trying to do something different. By coming on our workshop you are investing in (hopefully) a new approach to our wonderful artform of photography.

It is not a landscape workshop (nor any other genre). Neither is it a guided tour (although we will explore and experience the Alpujarra as fully as possible).

Nothing is off limits except being closed to possibilities – you should come with an open mind, both for images you will make and for appreciating those that your companions will make.

  • If it is your wish to “do better” in competitions and to gain distinctions, we believe that the individual expression we encourage is the best and most fulfilling way to achieve those aims. Having the confidence to express how you see and respond to the world in your own unique way is perhaps the final test of an artist.
  • If you are competitive, then we hope it is only with yourself and with the intention be a more complete photographer when you leave than when you came.

How much walking is involved?

Ken, we know you’re a bit of a mountaineer! How much walking is involved?

We will emphatically not be mountaineering!

This is a holiday first and foremost. Mindfulness is more about BEING than doing, and we will relax much more than on many photography workshops.

However, we will take some short local walks of up to 5km, optional to suit you and the group. Most will be on wide tracks and on easy grades. The back streets in the hill villages can also be very steep if you explore away from the village centre.

Do bring walking shoes and a day rucksack that will hold your photography kit and a few essentials.

What photography equipment should I bring?

Any kind of camera will be fine along with your usual lenses and accessories. We will be encouraging spontaneity and lightness of approach, so you may find that a compact camera gives you the freedom to travel and work light.

If you bring an SLR camera, prime or zoom lenses in the 18-55mm and 70-300mm ranges will be most useful. The more you are weighed down by equipment and choices, the less mindful your photography is likely to be.

You are very welcome to use the camera in your phone too, but we will be encouraging you to see directly rather than through apps, so your phone should not be your only option.

Don’t forget:

  • Storage cards and spare batteries
  • Your charger and plug adapters
  • Your camera manual – !Important
  • A notepad and pen for making your own notes.

How do we share images?

Several times through the week, we will share and critique each other’s images.

At La Estrellita we have access to a digital screen for our use, which can connect directly via USB memory or HDMi.

You may find it useful to have your own device on which you can sort and view your images for yourself – a small laptop or tablet computer is ideal. Make sure you have the requisite cable connections between device and camera and also that you are familiar with how to download and sort your files quickly and efficiently and download them to a USB memory stick.

We will also have a card reader for downloading centrally.

When choosing images for sharing, please resist the need to process them, either via apps or Photoshop. Getting things right in camera is one of the core skills we will explore, as is being able to quickly discern the images you like.

If you usually shoot RAW files, then do set up your camera to record a JPEG in addition, to avoid your having to spend additional time in post-processing. In any event, we will help you to make sure your camera is set up correctly at the start of the week.

Do I need a tripod?

In some conditions of low light, such as at dusk on our mountain day, you may find a tripod very useful or essential.

But you will find generally that it restricts spontaneity of seeing, so for most of the time we will encourage you to perfect your hand holding and to work in a responsive way.

We certainly will not get you lined up with tripods, all facing the same direction, looking at the same thing!

Is there WiFi?

Wifi is available at La Estrellita.

However, we have a screen-free ethos on all our holidays to enable us to meet and interact with each other as fully as possible. Other than when we are sharing images, use of mobile phones and computers is  not encouraged in communal areas such as the lounge and gardens..

General Travel FAQ

How do we travel to La Alpujarra

Most guests travel by air to Malaga (130 km from Órgiva) but there are some flights to Granada (50km).

Full travel advice, guidance and directions to Órgiva are included with our Essentials Factsheet.

How do we travel whilst at La Estrellita

For maximum flexibility we would suggest that you hire a car for your travelling. Many guests in the past have teamed up before departure to share car hire.

Car Hire is inexpensive in Spain and can be booked in advance for pick up at your arrival airport. Full details are given in our Essentials Factsheet.

What clothing do I need?

The climate in the Alpujarras is very agreeable. Temperatures in the spring are beginning to move into the twenties during the day, so come prepared for sunshine with comfortable clothing for walking and working on warm days, including sunglasses, sunhat and sun protection lotion.

Evenings can be cool, so you will definitely not regret bringing a warm fleece.

Rain is infrequent but often heavy when it arrives. A packable rain jacket will be useful, as will a travel umbrella that you could use when working. Yes we will work in most weathers!

Other than that, you will know what you like to take away with you. Again more information and advice is available on our Essential Factsheet.

What to bring:

  • comfortable clothing for walking and working on warm days – t-shirts, shorts
  • walking shoes or light boots plus flipflops, sandals or house shoes
  • sunglasses and sunhat
  • rain jacket and warm fleece
  • a rucksack for essentials and photography kit

Is this venue accessible?

La Alpujarra and Spain generally are not as well set up to meet access needs as the UK is. We will need to advise you about getting around the streets in Órgiva and the hill villages, and about any locations we visit that will present challenges.

La Estrellita is a single storey building on level ground. It is reasonably accessible but has some minor accessibility issues such as a few shallow, single steps.

If you have any specific access needs, such as a need to use walking aids or a chair, or any other communication / hearing needs, please get in touch to discuss this with us.

Contact Us

Please use this form to contact us about this workshop

Please use this form to contact us about this workshop