Photography: Intensive or Traditional program?

Today marks 3 short months until our Photography Intensive begins! If you are a high school student, ages 15-19 wondering whether to apply for the one-week intensive or the traditional three weeks-long program at Spoleto Study Abroad, we’d love to help you decide!

Here are some considerations as you prepare your application:

1. I’ve used a camera before but I’m still a beginner.

The one-week intensive is probably right for you. During the intensive, we will help photography students develop a personal style of shooting, using all sources of light, to create a stunning photographic portfolio. The instructor will discuss technique, intent, composition and the creative use of the camera and lens.

The three-week course allows for a deep-dive into the technical skills and tools of photography during the morning workshop. The afternoons The afternoon photography seminar will afford students individual mentoring opportunities with the instructor and collaborative peer learning during field trips and photographic shoots. The course is very hands-on through on-location photo assignments and some photo editing. You will be also be introduced to a wide variety of portraiture, documentary, and street photography genres through the study of masters in photography.


2. I want to explore Italy as much as possible while taking photographs!

Both the intensive and the three-week program will allow students to explore and photograph the rich daily life of Spoleto, Italy as well as neighboring hill towns. The intensive will visit La Bruna to capture the sunflower fields, as well.

The three-week program will allow for weekly trips to such cultural centers as Urbino, Florence, Siena, Assisi, San Benedetto, Orvieto, and other medieval hill towns throughout Umbria and Tuscany.

3. Can you tell me more about what I will take away from the two courses?

For the intensive, participants will receive daily feedback on their works-in-progress from the instructor and during peer group discussions. The final day of the workshop will culminate in an art exhibition.

For the three-week program, a final photo essay capturing the Sense of Place and Culture will be the culminating project. Many Spoleto students use this as a portfolio piece when applying to colleges.

4. How can I find out more about the equipment needed for both courses?

You can find out more information about the program faculty, the equipment required, as well as how to apply here:

More details about the Photography Intensive
Intensive application

More details about the three-week Photography program
Three-week program application packet

Away They Go


All the students are at the airport or with their families!  We had an incredible summer, and we are so grateful for each and every one of our amazingly talented students.  Grazie a mille!

In closing, we wanted to share a few of our favorite photos from the program. Enjoy!

Last Dinner, Performances and Farewells.....

The time has gone so quickly, but we have all made new friends and experienced new things. Today began with a wonderful Visual Arts, Photography and Film Showcase at the school. It was great to see the end results of three weeks of work. We finished the evening with our last meal at the Clitunno and our final Performance Class. Creative Writing, Vocal Music, Filmmaking and Drama showcased their final works.


The winner of this years Palio was Lupa! Team members went out for a gelato after the performances.


The bus for Rome is leaving early tomorrow morning.  Thank you for a wonderful summer!

Il Palio

This morning, we had the final event of our program-long competition: Il Palio! The official Palio, a horse race between different neighborhoods of the city, takes place in Siena every year. Our final race was up at the base of La Rocca. Each team, or "contrada," chose a runner who had to skip, powerwalk, and run around the track. For the final leg of the race, the rest of the contrada had to carry their runner to the finish line. The Chiocciola contrada won the footrace, but we will learn the final results of the competition tomorrow after lunch. Enjoy some pictures from the day below! For the rest of the day, they had free time or did final work for tomorrow's showcase. 

Also, enjoy a couple of photos from one of last night's faculty dinners!

Final Day of Classes, Concert, and Faculty Dinners!

We cannot believe it, but today was the final day of classes here in Spoleto! Students spent Italian class at the local market, practicing their new language skills and using up some of their remaining Euros! Creative Writers spent the afternoon completing a workshop and some independent writing in preparation for their final presentation on Sunday. The strings, drama and vocal students attended the first concert in the Incontri Musicali series and had the opportunity to see four different chamber music pieces performed by musicians from around the world. 

Tonight is always a favored night during the SSA program because students have the opportunity to attend dinner at different restaurants around Spoleto with faculty members! 


Tomorrow is a free day here in Spoleto for students to finish working on projects, to start packing and to enjoy their final days in town!

Performance Class Thursday......and Pizza for dinner!

Today, we feature our vocal music and drama students. They have been working in collaboration with the film students this week on a final project, and for the end of the week, they are preparing the live component of their final presentation. We will have several solo performances as well as a duet and two opera choruses. Tonight, we had our final performance class, featuring vocal music, drama, visual art, and film. It has been wonderful to watch our students progress over the past three weeks!

Drama and Vocal Music

Visual Arts Self-Portraits

Orvieto and a Pool Party

We spent a lovely morning and afternoon in Orvieto.  Our first stop was the Etruscan Museum, where we were able to see the remains from this interesting civilization native to Italy.  

After splitting up for some free time to shop and eat lunch, we reconvened at the Cathedral.  Inside, we saw the amazing chapel painted by Fra Angelico and Luca Signorelli.

We are currently at Agri Leisure Time, an agriturismo outside of Spoleto.  The students are entertaining themselves with swimming, beach volleyball, cards, visiting with animals, and spending time together.  Soon we will eat a delicious buffet and BBQ!

The Spotlight Falls on Film and Photo!

Today all students were hard at working on finishing their final projects for the showcase! At the end of the evening, there was a performance class and students from photography and visual arts showed off their progress.

It was a cool, rainy day today, so we spent lots of time indoors. We will be shining a spotlight on both the film and the photography students today!



Favorite film: Shutter Island
Favorite Duomo so far: Siena Duomo
One thing she wishes she could take back from Spoleto: the Pizza!


Favorite film: Hunchback of Notre Dame
One thing about Spoleto that has surprised her: the closeness of it all
One thing she wishes she could take back from Spoleto: the peaceful ambience of the streets at night


Favorite film: Howl's Moving Castle
Favorite Duomo so far: the Cathedral of San Rufino
One thing she wishes she could take back from Spoleto: the tranquility




Favorite thing to photograph: the Spoletini

Favorite Duomo so far: Chiesa del Gesù in Rome

A moment she wish she had photographed: When a little girl dropped her gelato


Favorite thing to photograph: the daily life in Spoleto

One thing she wishes she could take back from Spoleto: the Sunflower Fields

Favorite Duomo so far: Siena Duomo


Favorite Duomo so far: Chiesa del Gesù in Rome

A moment she wish she had photographed: the reactions of people tripping on the cobblestones

One thing she wishes she could take back from Spoleto: the pistachio gelato


One thing she wishes she could take back from Spoleto: my friends

Favorite thing to photograph: the architecture

A moment she wish she had photographed: None. She likes all the photos she takes.


Favorite thing to photograph: abstract subjects

One thing about Spoleto that has surprised her: how nice everyone here is

Favorite Duomo so far: the Spoleto Duomo

Grace S.

One thing about Spoleto that has surprised her: how the same people will always be at the same place at the same time every day

Favorite Duomo so far: the Florence Cathedral

One thing she wishes she could take back from Spoleto: Spoleto itself

Tomorrow we will be off to Orvieto! A domani!

Showing Off Our Talents

Today's spotlight is on visual arts! Visual arts students are working hard to complete projects for the  upcoming exhibition. Each day they are becoming more aware of visual elements that create what we see.

After dinner, students had a chance to show off their other talents during our annual talent show. We heard original songs, poems, jokes, and even a recorder solo of "My Heart Will Go On." Acts ranged from the serious to the absurd, and the audience went wild every time. It has been our first cloudy day in Spoleto, and we had a huge thunderstorm during the talent show. We were glad to be dry inside!


Mitchell Brennan

Favorite Gelato Flavor: Pistacchio & Fiordilatte

Favorite Thing Learned in Visual Arts (so far): Shapes and values

Three Adjectives to Describe Raul: Helpful, insightful, visual

Carley Plummer

Favorite Gelato Flavor: Chocolate and Pistacchio

Favorite Thing Learned in Visual Arts (so far): There are multiple layers to a picture

Three Adjectives to Describe Raul: Knowledgeable, artistic, critical

Isabella Bredwell

Favorite Gelato Flavor: Chocolate fondente 

Favorite Thing Learned in Visual Arts (so far): How to draw people

Three Adjectives to Describe Raul: Funny, harsh, supportive

Kirk Holton

Favorite Gelato Flavor: Chocolate rum

Favorite Thing Learned in Visual Arts (so far): Staying connected

Three Adjectives to Describe Raul: Tough, funny, focused

And on the Seventh Day, We Rested.

In the morning today, the students were treated to a faculty performance. Jill and Niccolo Muti played some beautiful Baroque pieces on the flute and violin, respectively; Naomi, the creative writing teacher, read some of her published poems; Laura, the vocal teacher, sang a song related to the story of Orpheus and Eurydice; and Skye, the film teacher, read a few excerpts from his screenplay. It was overall a wonderful and peaceful performance, and a beautiful way to begin the day.

Other than the faculty performance in the morning, today was fairly quiet. Due to there being a heatwave of almost 100°, we gave the students the opportunity to rest today, get out of the sun, and practice for the talent show tomorrow. We've got several acts in preparation for tomorrow's show--tune in tomorrow for coverage of this wide-variety of talent!

Roma, Italia....Our Saturday travel day!

We had a wonderful day in Rome today. The group began the tour of Rome with a walk up to Piazza del Campidoglio, designed by Michelangelo. Lorenzo then led the group through Baroque Rome, viewing Chiesa del Gesu and Sant'Ignazio di Loyola. Both churches had beautiful ceiling paintings dating from the Baroque period. 

We next visited Campo de Fiori, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain. Students then had some free time to explore, shop and eat around Rome. Everyone had a great time in The Eternal City!

Spotlight on Strings and Another Performance Class

Today was the end of our second to last week of classes in Spoleto! We had a full schedule with Italian, Arts and Ideas and Art and Architecture in the morning. Many students enjoyed the "mercatino" in lower Spoleto which happens every Friday morning. The vendors have clothes, fruits, meats and various household items. A favorite with SSA students are the "thrifting tables" where you can sort through piles of clothes and purchase for €3 each or two pieces for €5. 


Favorite part of SSA so far: Visiting the sunflower fields and singing "The Climb" while waiting for the bus to come on the way back to town!
Favorite gelato flavor: Tiramisu
She has been playing viola: since she was 11.

Mary Slade

Favorite part of SSA so far: Going to the sunflower fields with the Photography & Creative Writing Groups and singing at the bus stop!
Favorite gelato flavor: Limone & Cioccolato
She has been playing violin: since she was 4.

After dinner we had our second performance class where students showcase their works in progress. First up were the Creative Writers who read a patchwork poem about their time in the sunflower fields. We hope you enjoy the opening lines featured below:

Next up, two of our Visual Artists, Annalivia and Jill, shared their progress in working on their self portraits. They both emphasized the way they have learned to view their face, not as a set of features, but as multiple planes in various shades. 

After hearing from the Visual Art students, we learned more about the Photography process from three of our photo students. (We apologize for the low resolution images- these were taken from the projections of the presentations made by students!)

 Laura explained her process in taking multiple photos on different settings to gain different effects in focus, lighting and color.

Laura explained her process in taking multiple photos on different settings to gain different effects in focus, lighting and color.

 Grace showed us the effects of different photoshop tools and how they are used to lighten and darken specific areas of a photo.

Grace showed us the effects of different photoshop tools and how they are used to lighten and darken specific areas of a photo.

Mary Slade talked about their days focused on portrature and how they learned to ask if they could take someone's photo in Italian.

To finish our performance class, our filmmakers, Camille, Mady and Laura shared their short pieces about place. They chose to focus on the convent, the restaurant where we eat our meals and an alleyway in Spoleto respectively. After viewing the pieces, the students spoke about their inspirations for those places and the different tools they have been working to develop in class.

Tomorrow we are headed to Rome! A dopo!