Ballet & Ball Gowns Photography Workshop at the Venice Carnival

Date: Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd February 2020

To join this workshop, please purchase a place at the bottom of the page.

Workshop Details & Description

Dance... Masquerade... Extravagant Ball Gowns... Colourful Flowing Fabrics...

Vibrant Carnival... Magnificent Architecture... Venice has it all....


Join us in February 2020 for a photographic adventure in Venice for the Carnival. Uniquely we will also have our own model with Venetian style dress (and other outfits) for our exclusive use. Our model is also a dancer and we will be shooting amazing ballet and dance photography in some of Venice's best locations.

Taking place in the magical 'floating city' of Venice, our creative photo workshop lets you experience the city at the final weekend of the Carnival which is the best time to visit as there are more events leading up to the final crescendo. Be prepared: this is not for the claustrophobic or the ascetic, as staid old Venice lets its hair down and kicks up its heels in vibrant, indulgent and often absurd style!

Through a series of workshops and photo-walks, you'll develop your camera skills and discover whole new worlds in your viewfinder.  If you are an experienced photographer or enthusiast then there is always something new for us to learn from each other and our events are aimed at all abilities. This three-day workshop will transform your ability to take high-quality images and you'll master the manual settings of your DSLR camera and learn skills of perception that will last a lifetime.

Led by photographer Steven Gosling, this highly interactive course is tailored to the needs and interests of attendees, with plenty of time for personalised feedback. Perfect for passionate photographers who want to develop their technical skills, meet like-minded people and improve their appreciation of the world around them. This is our third Venice Carnival workshop and Steven's 10th visit so he really knows his way around and knows many great locations away from the crowds.

Characterised by bridges spanning the canals, gondolas, amazing architecture, monuments, piazzas, narrow winding lanes and silent waters. It’s a photographers dream. Venice is actually a group of fascinating small islands, where art and history combine with old trades and the beauty of the sea.

There has been an annual carnival or festival in Venice since 1162 but the modern carnival we know today was formulated in 1979 and features many traditional elements but also brings new events every year.

This course is for you if...

  • You're a photographer of any ability level who wants to improve your technical and creative skills
  • You're an experienced photographer looking to create something very different
  • You're a passionate photographer who wants to learn how to improve your 'eye' for a great shot, as well as fine-tune your technical skills
  • You love taking photographs and want to take part in an immersive learning experience with like-minded people
  • You want to expand your portfolio of images with something very different

Venice has so much to offer the photographer which is why our photography workshop runs for three full days. The itinerary includes photographing many of the well-known Venice landmarks as well as many hidden gems such as quiet canals, atmospheric squares, Gondolas and of course the flamboyantly costumed Venetians.

In keeping with all of our photography workshops, we offer advice and guidance to those that need it and each day we will spend time perfecting your skills and knowledge with various photography techniques and developing your photographer’s eye through composition, as well as understanding light and colour.

The official Venice Carnival website can be viewed here:


Trip Details

Date: Friday 21st February to Sunday 23rd February 2020 with optional evening group dinner on Thursday 20th February.

An amazing opportunity to explore and photograph Venice on the final and best weekend of the Venice Carnival. With so much to see and do in this unique cultural city it is always a photographers delight and you will have the added bonus of our own model and dancer plus the fantastic events and costumes of the Carnival. Venice in winter can be very atmospheric.

We only run small groups so you are guaranteed quality and attentive time with me and our model on this trip. We also take a small set of off-camera flashes with softboxes.


What’s Included in the trip?

Our events are structured for photographers of all abilities; We cater for everyone from the very experienced to those who are just learning about digital photography.  For those that are beginners or need additional help, we provide daily assistance, evaluation and guidance throughout from an experienced fashion, carnival and travel photographer, and if needed we will regularly review your photos and offer constructive feedback - we want you to come away with an amazing array of quality images.

Venice is particularly popular during the carnival so we will explore the city on foot and waterbus to see not only the main sights but also some of the quieter, but no less photogenic areas of the city – taking you to the best places to get the best shots, with timings designed to make the most of the best quality light.

The workshop schedule also gives you scope to do your own thing in a city that has so much to offer.

Also included… Our own dancer and professional model

We will be joined across the weekend by our own model and model Felicia Tan, who will have at least 5 different outfits, one typically Venetian plus floaty ball gowns and creative costumes. She will also create multiple looks with different makeup, masks and hairstyles over the weekend so we can shoot as many different styles as possible. Our model is also an experienced dancer and we will be shooting her performing graceful and exciting ballet and dance moves at some of Venice's best locations.

Why use our own model when there will be so many other people to photograph?

Having experienced and photographed the carnival several times, we know that the most reliable way to really get the best images is to have our own model for our exclusive use. The carnival is very busy and lively and getting the costumed characters to pose how you want or to get some dedicated time with them is very difficult, plus many don’t speak English so communicating can be challenging. There are also many other photographers after the same shot or in close proximity so it can be difficult to get full-length shots. 

Having our own professional model alleviates this problem and also means we can get away from the big crowds, get creative and create much better shots and really use the amazing backdrops that Venice has to offer. Our model shoots will be in addition to spending time shooting the other “public” costumed characters.

We believe we are unique in this approach whereby no other UK Venice Carnival Photography trip has their own exclusive model available.

Typical Trip Agenda

Friday 21st February

We will meet at 09.30 and take the water bus over to either the Island of Burano or Murano. Murano is famed for its many glass factories, glass blowing demonstrations and shops selling all manner of colourful and intricate glassware. Burano is a little further away and is a kaleidoscope of colour with many of the buildings brightly painted. They also have a large lace industry with plenty of shops selling lace goods. The cost of the water bus is not included in the workshop fee.

The afternoon we make our way back to Venice and to Piazza San Marco. This popular Friday afternoon sees this famous square filled with elaborately costumed characters all willing to be photographed, from simple jesters to the most amazing intricate vintage costumes. 

Friday night usually offers live music and dancing on a large stage in Piazza San Marco. Again lots of costumed characters will be around to photograph and it's a real carnival atmosphere! Often the costumes will have led light built in so this makes for an interesting photo opportunity.

Our model will join us all day with at least two costume options.

Saturday 22nd February

We will start the day with sunrise at 6.30am in Piazza San Marco. Many costumed characters will be in the square for the sunrise. A clear sky will offer a beautiful backdrop of the Venetian lagoon and the rich warm morning colours. There are normally many costumed characters without the day time crowds.

Later we meet at 10.00 for a walking trip around the small and lesser know streets of Venice to take in the architecture and atmosphere of Venice. There will certainly be many costumed and masked characters wandering around who are happy to be photographed.

Our model will typically join us in the afternoon for a 4-hour session of outdoor ballet and dance photography.

Saturday night usually offers live music and dancing on a large stage in Piazza San Marco. Again lots of costumed characters will be around to photograph and it's a real carnival atmosphere!

Sunday 23rd February

Depending upon demand and weather, we may have an early start to the day and go out at around 6am to photograph the sunrise and the deserted Venetian streets and canals. The Grand Canal can look amazing if it's covered in the early morning mist.

Otherwise, we will meet at 10am to explore the Dorsoduro area. There is some amazing architecture in this part of Venice and we’ll end up at the Punta della Dogana which offers almost 360-degree views all around the lagoon and across the water to Piazza San Marco.

Our model will join us for the morning shoot with ball gowns and other creative outfits.

The workshop will finish around 4pm.

All timings are flexible, weather dependent and subject to change. Locations used/advertised may change due to local accessibility and we may have to substitute locations. Costumes shown in the photos are for illustration only and we may choose to use different outfits.

Please note that the workshop is priced lower than most meaning I will also photograph at the same time as you, but my priority will be to offer whatever assistance participants need.

Most days we will meet close to the Accademia Bridge in the Dorsoduro area so accommodation close to this area is recommended. The Dorsoduro area is often quieter and cheaper than the main areas.


What to bring?

  • Camera – its doesn’t matter if you have a simple point and shoot or bridge camera or a super SLR we can accommodate you, improve your photography and take many amazing shots
  • Lenses: Standard zoom such as 24-70 and a long lens to get in close such as 70-200 zoom is ideal.
  • Plenty of memory cards (or film if that’s your preference)
  • Battery charger and spare batteries if you have them
  • Tripod – not needed for daily use, but we may have an early sunrise shoot and or evening shoot (subject to weather and demand)
  • Flashgun – not essential but great to use as fill-in flash (tuition available if needed on using your flash)
  • Instruction books for your equipment. We know a lot about cameras, but we don’t know every function of every camera and having the instructions available can help us help you get the best from your camera
  • Weather is not guaranteed to be good, so bring appropriate clothing for mixed weather such as good walking shoes and waterproof jacket – at the 2017, 2018 and 2018 carnival we had glorious warm sunny weather all weekend but past performance is no guarantee of future forecasts!


What’s not included

  • Travel to/from and within Venice, such as flights, buses, water buses, water taxi, etc
  • Food and drink
  • Hotel and accommodation
  • Travel insurance
  • Entry fees to any event or place you may wish to enter (all the outside Carnival events are free to attend)

We don't include accommodation in our prices as participants often have different preferences from hostels to 5 star palaces. If the thought of booking your flights and hotel or accommodation is daunting, then we are happy to assist and recommend websites and flights to ensure you enjoy the trip. Just ask and we will help. Many of our participants stay in airbnb properties which can be room only, B&B or self catering apartments and often cheaper than the equivalent hotels.


We will cover Venice mainly on foot thus you need to be able to easily walk up and down steps, over bridges and manage old uneven flooring. We will occasionally use the water buses which may have steps. There will be considerable walking during the day.


Just give me a call on 07836 705 705 or email

(please note that from 7th October to 8th November I will be unavailable via phone, but will be replying to emails, but may take a few days to reply)

Images from previous Venice Carnival Workshops


Images from previous Venice Model Shoots


Images of our Model and Dancer Felicia

Ballet & Ball Gowns Photography Workshop at the Venice Carnival


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