Destination Porto, Portugal

A creative retreat

Mark de Paola

Porto, Portugal

April 23 – May 1, 2021

($1,000 – nonrefundable deposit needed to secure a spot. Final payment due 90 days before departure.)


Single-occupancy accommodations.


April 23 – May 1, 2021 – Destination Porto, Portugal: Explore historic Porto, Portugal, shoot with renowned photographer, Mark de Paola, stay in an 18th century countryside manor and gain exclusive access to and take private tours of the Leica Portugal factory.

Join renowned photographer, Mark de Paola, who has spent his career shooting beauty and fashion for iconic brands like Vogue, Donna Karan, MAC Cosmetics and Gucci, along with Leica Akademie USA, and Leica Akademie Portugal for an in-depth, all-inclusive retreat and cultural immersion program exploring historic Porto, Portugal. The group (limited to six attendees total) will explore winding cobblestone streets of the city, the beautiful landscape of the country’s seaside, and sample Porto’s flavorful cuisine and world-famous port wines, all while shooting portrait, fashion, and fine art nudes utilizing only natural light.  With Mark as your personal guide, not only providing insight but also technical and creative support, you will grow your visual perspective and develop your artistic narrative in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.


  • How to use natural light in portraiture
  • Engaging with artistic collaborators/subjects
  • Shooting fine art nude on location
  • Utilizing cultural influences in your photography
  • Creating a cohesive and personal body of work
  • Editing a body of work and its public presentation


This program is taking place in May, the ideal month in terms weather and just before the city is flooded with tourists. Portugal is known for its colorful tile architecture, fresh seafood, and artistic craft and these elements will be crucial as you discover your pre scouted shooting locations.

We will be staying in a four-star hotel next to the Leica Store Porto and the production base will be a short walk from the hotel, which is situated on the river cliffs overlooking the opposite end of the city. This base will serve as a location for specific shooting sessions, reviews, and evening gatherings.

Be prepared for a fair amount of walking and you’ll want to carry as little with you as possible during the day, as Porto has many steep hills, much like San Francisco. Pack layers as it gets a bit windy at night since Porto is so close to the ocean. Sunscreen is imperative as most shooting sessions will take place outside. Tom Smith and your production team will be available to you for technical questions and any trip inquiries you may have throughout this program.

De Paola’s career and real-life experience over the past two decades creating projects from Vogue covers to Gucci campaigns and his transition into Fine Art photography with exhibitions in Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, Dali, China and Tokyo will be a valuable part of our formal and informal conversations. Mark’s vast and comprehensive experience with Leica cameras and optics, especially the 50mm Noctilux, will serve as a point of inspiration throughout the weekend.

Porto will provide the backdrop for this one-of-a kind-opportunity to be both challenged and guided creatively by de Paola as well as pushed to reinvent and refine one’s own fine art voice in such a historic and honorably photographed area.

Who should Attend?

Whether you are currently a working pro, or a dedicated novice with an interest in exploring new directions in your photography or just have always wanted to visit Portugal with a group of like minded photographers, this is a trip for you. 
Photographers with an interest in fine art nudes, fashion and landscape photography will gain much from this experience. Owning a Leica is not required for this program. A selection of Leica M & SL cameras will be available for your use.


  • Eight nights, single occupancy accommodations/private bathroom (Four-star hotel for the Porto portion and luxury bedroom/en-suite bathroom in the manor house for retreat portion**)
  • Two meals/day
  • Leica Camera Porto Private Factory Tour
  • Open and closing celebration dinners
  • Model, H/MU, Styling, and Production
  • One-on-one portfolio reviews and editing sessions with Mark de Paola
  • Three-day collaboration masterclass with Leica Akademie Portugal
  • Transfers between locations within Porto and from Porto to Manor House and back
  • Port Wine tour of local Porto sellers
  • Wi-Fi Connection at accommodation bases
  • Daily on-site mentorship and instruction by Mark de Paola

Not Included:

  • Round-trip airfare to Porto
  • Insurance for your personal photography equipment
  • Personal expenses – gifts, souvenirs, or activities not included in the program itinerary

Special Notes: Enrollment is limited to seven participants.


Mark de Paola is a director and fine art photographer based in New York City.

Working with both still and motion pictures in fashion and beauty, De Paola has shot countless campaigns including Gucci, Brioni, and MAC Cosmetics as well as editorials and covers for various publications including Vogue Spain, Vogue Mexico, and Interview Magazine.

His storytelling has also been translated across a broad range of television work, having directed nearly seven hundred spots including Anheuser-Busch for the Superbowl, Giorgio Perfume (exhibited in MoMA New York and Bergdorf Goodman windows), Donna Karan, Neutrogena, Sephora, Sony, Toyota, Kawasaki, and Ford Motorsports.

De Paola continues to work with select clients around the world. His most recent commercial works are the Art of Backstage worldwide collaboration with Aveda during New York Fashion Week.

His lectures and workshops including “Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition” at the Contemporary Jewish Museum San Francisco, “Leica M Panel” with Ralph Gibson and Leica Camera at Photoville New York City, and “Photography Wide Open” at the Leica Store San Francisco, the Leica Gallery Los Angeles, the Leica Gallery Tokyo, and Photoville NYC.

Most recently, his fine art photographic series, “60 Seconds,” was exhibited at the Leica Gallery San Francisco, the Leica Gallery Los Angeles, the Leica Gallery Boston, and the Leica Gallery Tokyo, and is now touring to select cities including Chicago, Washington DC, Miami, and New York City.

“60 Seconds” delves into a realm of abstract figures, fluidity, and poetic forms, challenging and seducing the limits of motion contained within still image. With each photograph taken handheld with a 60 second exposure, de Paola has discovered the connection between his physiological make up, the Leica M camera as a tool, and time, the unflinching competitor to the timeless image.

Producing and directing multiple upcoming feature films, including Proof Film, as well as producing his own fine art portfolios, de Paola melds the crossroads between both fine art and commercial aesthetic.


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