Emma Hillier Photography Blog » Photographer based in Liverpool, North West, England

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The Secret Retreat – Santa Maria, Italy

Secret Retreat 2015-2

Last September I was lucky enough to become part of the very first group of Secret Retreaters!

The Secret Retreat is a workshop for women set up by the amazingly talented and bloody lovely Claire Penn, Andrea Ellison and Lucy Woodrow. Along with their partners in crime, Julie and Emillie of My Secret Italy and Mandy of Saddleworth Shindigs, they put on a week of shooting, learning, laughing (and a bit of crying!) eating, drinking and bonding! A week I will never forget.

The journey started at Liverpool airport where a gang of us met to fly out to Naples. I knew some of the girls who were going but most I only knew through the Facebook group, so it was lovely to finally meet everyone in the flesh. When we arrived in Italy most of the others were there waiting for us and after a few drinks to get the party started we headed off to our home for the week, Santa Maria!

We were welcomed to Santa Maria with bubbles and nibbles before we were let in on the plans for the week and it was clear from the start it was going t be a week to remember!ย There was no time to take a dip in the inviting swimming pool that day, we were whisked away to the top of Santa Maria to watch the sun set, before sitting down to a fabulous welcome meal and gallons of wine, our excitement levels through the roof!

The whole week was a whirlwind of classroom sessions (if you can call sitting outside in the morning sun a classroom!) which covered topics such as branding, finding the right clients, editing and pricing. Mixed in with styled shoots, one for each of the hosts (all beautifully styled by Mandy) two of which tookย place in the Prince of Belmonte’s summer palace no less! Our models for the shoots were actually real couples, Bev & Paul and Luigi & Antonia who were all amazing to photograph and great fun to hang out with.

Our evenings were spent eating delicious food and drinking Prosecco, wine and cocktails, sometimes all together (never again!) But the highlight for everyone was our leaving party on the beach! BBQ’d food, wine, gifts for everyone, a surprise fireworks display and the most amazing electrical storm I’ve ever seen! I haven’t included any images from that night because a) I didn’t take my proper camera, only my phone and b) the pics I did get were mainly blurry and include drunken yoga and the flashing of knickers!

Anyway, here are some of the images I can show to the world! Beautiful scenery, amazing styled shoots, some behind the scenes silliness and cats! Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

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And what better way to end than with a group photo of the most incredibly talented, funny, gorgeous girls I now get to call friends! Thank you so much to Claire, Andrea and Lucy for bringing us all together. If you are going on The Secret Retreat 2016 you are going to have a BALL (just take plenty of painkillers with you) !!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Image kindly provided by lovely Lucy! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • Rachel Lambert - Ah Em, these are absolutely stunning!!!ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - Ahhh I LOVE these…. just fab… when images take you back to the very second they were taken and you can feel the exact feelings you had right then…. for me thats just brilliant <3 these are ace chickReplyCancel

  • Helen - Just gorgeous!!!! I miss that place (and your face!) so much! XxxxReplyCancel

  • Mandy B - absolutely gorgeous feel like I’ve done a beautiful triop down memory lane xxxReplyCancel

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