Val d’Orcia on Hasselblad

Posted by on Nov 14, 2013 in Projects | 30 Comments
Val d’Orcia on Hasselblad

My wife Rebecca and I were lucky to spend three weeks in Tuscany after we had stopped at Lake Como for a few days. We stayed in Poppi (where we got married) for a while and then moved on to the beautiful Val d’Orcia valley.

It’s incredible to think about how much I learned about life on this trip. I learned about how important it is to simplify as much as possible, to cut out negativity and enjoy good simple things. I learned about how little material things I need to be happy. It’s actually even less than I had awareness for already. And I learned about following my destiny. I learned about how effortless and wondrous every day is if you are able to spend it with the person you’re made for. I feel incredibly blessed and thankful for my wife, more than I could ever express with words.

I also cannot believe how addictive this travel bug is. We had been gone from home for so long and even I was really looking forward to being back towards the end of the trip, I also couldn’t wait to pack up and go again the next time. What a dream come true it would be to be able to invest a whole year realizing the book project I am planning since months now and thinking about so much. I have so many ideas about it already and I cannot wait to start working on it.

I felt so much confirmation this year that photography is what I am supposed to do and share in my life. The world is so beautiful and I love to tell people about it through my work. It almost feels like wasting my lifetime to not do it with all my heart and soul.

All the images below were taken with the Hasselblad 503CW and the Carl Zeiss Planar T* 2.8/80 on Kodak Portra 400, scanned and processed by Richard Photo Lab in California:























  1. Rebecca Lily
    14. November 2013

    These are some of your most beautiful images yet, Johnny. Just unspeakably emotive. You have such a tender way of seeing, and your images feel like the gentlest touch on everything you photograph. It’s as if, through your lens, you find another world within this one – a world made of kindness, honesty and quiet beauty, a world that idealistic hearts like mine long for. Through your pictures it’s possible to connect with that world for a moment and believe that it’s real – because you not only see it, but feel it.

    I am blessed to be able to live my lifetime alongside yours. Just to know not only such a talented artist, but such a good and pure soul is a privilege. Thank you.

    “There is another world, but it is in this one.” – W.B. Yeats.

  2. Johnny
    14. November 2013

    Thank you so much for your wonderful words, Rebecca.

    It makes me so happy that you feel that way and that you like these images. You mean the world to me. And you always understand.

  3. Heather
    14. November 2013

    Lovely images, as always. I didn’t know you got married in Italy. Had you already been before your wedding? Looking forward to your book project – it is bound to be a success!

  4. Johnny
    14. November 2013

    Thank you for your kind words, Heather.

    Yes, we had been to Italy together once before we got married and fell in love with it. We couldn’t have imagined a better destination for our elopement.

  5. Jakob
    14. November 2013

    Wowsers, stunning imagery! That horse image is just beautiful! Compositionally you’re a master! Love it.

  6. Johnny
    14. November 2013

    Jakob, thank you very much.

    I really appreciate your feedback and I’m very happy you enjoyed these pictures.

  7. Robert-Paul Jansen
    15. November 2013

    Wow, what a great selection of images to present the surroundings of Val d’Orcia. This place has been on my list for a long time and these pictures just made the urge to go and visit it even worse.

    You also make me want to shoot square! ;)

  8. Johnny
    15. November 2013

    Thank you, Robert-Paul.

    You should definitely try to go visit Tuscany, it’s so beautiful there and a pleasure to photograph. I think shooting some square would be a great idea! :)

  9. Jade Sheldon-Burnsed
    16. November 2013

    Reading your words (and seeing the world through your eyes) nearly brings tears to my eyes. When I see people realizing their dreams it just makes my heart so full and gives me hope that one day I will also realize my own.

    I’m still searching for what I’m meant to do, but I know in my heart it will come to me if I’m open to it. On our recent trip to London, we came back home so inspired but soon after, I couldn’t help but feel a little depressed. I’m scared not knowing the next time I’ll get to travel. The world is so big and there is so much to see. I don’t want to miss a thing…

  10. Johnny
    16. November 2013

    Jade, thank you very much for your kind feedback.

    I’m happy you enjoyed this post so much. I completely agree with you – if you’re on the right path, everything will come to you when the time is right. It’s not possible to force anything. But it’s so important to listen carefully.

  11. David
    16. November 2013

    Thank you Rebecca to have found the exact words to describe what I felt while discovering Johnny’s last blog post: “Just unspeakably emotive”.

    I have had the same feeling than Jade looking at your photo set, and all your work so far, I see someone realizing his dream. I also feel photography is just a part of that dream, maybe the way to “browse” it and to tell it. I’m pretty sure I’ve some ideas of the other parts. ;)

    I wanted to wait until I had a good display at hand before looking at the photo set. I’m so happy I did it! I read the text after viewing the photos and I really felt how you tried to tell through your shots what you have learned during this travel. All the pieces fit so well together, as if the whole would have been mind viewed long before.

    Also, by reviewing the past posts, I really see an evolution and a convergence in the style. Plus the level/mastery seems to raise each time. That apparent simplicity, back to the roots, is really really hard to achieve, that must be noted.

    I’ve never seen before photography that make you view through the photographer eyes so easily, so deeply. It’s really fascinating.

    Thank you for these otherworldly (Rebecca Patience TM) adventures, Johnny.

    P.S. Finally, after I read Rebecca’s comment, I’m pretty sure I found your secret! You have the “Otherworldly Special Edition” of the 503CW, not the plain one. Don’t you? ;)

  12. Johnny
    16. November 2013

    Thank you so much for your kind feedback, David.

    It really means a lot to me how you feel about these pictures. Being able to read what you expressed about how they make you feel connected with what I saw and felt in the situation is really great. I put a lot of myself in my work and it makes me very happy that you can feel that.

    I really appreciate the time and effort you put in writing me.

    Thank you!

  13. Wim
    18. November 2013

    Johnny, I hate you in a positive way! ;) You always bring it to the point and you are a big inspiration for me and my photography work! So now come to Hamburg to talk about our photo project! :)

  14. Johnny
    18. November 2013

    Haha! ;)

    Thank you Wim, that really means a lot to me. I hope I’ll make it to Hamburg soon! Can’t wait for my prints. :)

  15. John Kim
    28. January 2014

    Johnny, I revisited this blog post after my wife and I decided to head to Italy this coming spring for our first European adventure together.

    At this point, I don’t think I can say anything too different from what your wife and several others have already stated regarding the simplicity-complexity/beauty/emotion of these images. I can only hope that the visit has the same profound effect on me as it had on you.

    Thank you for posting this entry. It’s wonderful.

  16. Johnny
    29. January 2014

    John, thank you very much for your kind feedback.

    I’m so happy for you and your wife that you will be able to visit this beautiful part of the world this spring. I’m sure you will love it just as much as we did and have a wonderful time together.

    It’s really difficult to put the feel in words, but you will know what I mean once you’ve visited there. I can’t wait to see the photographs you bring home!

    Thank you again.

  17. Andrew Burns
    26. June 2014

    I don’t have a great deal to add so I’ll keep it short and sweet. Simply stunning work, keeps me well inspired. Cheers!

  18. Johnny
    26. June 2014

    Thank you very much, Andrew!

    I appreciate your kind feedback, glad to hear you enjoyed the pictures.

  19. Emily
    8. July 2014

    Argh, I just want to eat these images. So much perfection. Love love love.

  20. Johnny
    8. July 2014

    Haha! Thank you, Emily. I’m happy you like them so much. :)

  21. Tsutomu Ohno
    1. August 2014

    I discovered your website recently, and have been just amazed with the photos that you post. I like the blog frequency, just a few – but of extraordinary quality to them. I use Portra 400, but seeing this post in particular has me wanting a Hasselblad! Do you shoot handheld when you are using it? Thanks.

  22. Johnny
    1. August 2014

    Thank you very much for your kind feedback, Tsutomu.

    Yes, I shoot the Hasselblad handheld. I don’t own a tripod.

    I’m very glad to hear that you enjoyed these pictures – and the frequency of my blog posts. I try to be selective with what I share and many of my posts take time.

  23. David Mantripp
    31. August 2014

    Hi Johnny,

    Another new convert to your blog here, it’s been perfect Sunday reading. :-)

    Love these Tuscany shots, several of the locations look quite familiar – I go to the Val d’Orcia / Crete Sensi area at least once a year. You’ve really got the feel of the place captured here, nothing like the usual garish, ghastly hypercontrast stuff people (like me) publish.

    Oh, and I’m feeling really guilty about Lake Como. I’ve lived approx 30 minutes away for about 15 years and never quite get around to going there for a bit of photography…

    Best wishes,


  24. Johnny
    31. August 2014

    David, thanks very much for your feedback. I really appreciate it and I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed my pictures.

    I love taking pictures and spending time in Italy, the country just resonates with me and it’s one of my favorite destinations.

    Interesting that you lived in the Lake Como area for such a long time and never went there to take pictures. But I can relate, I think the eye gets used to your usual surroundings and then it’s really difficult to see pictures anymore. For me there’s not much more inspiring than a change of scenery.

  25. Warren
    25. September 2014


    I wrote Rebecca a month or so ago and bought one her presets for Lightroom to edit my Fuji images. I then discovered your blog and read about a trip to Tuscany. I was so excited about the blog post and the images that me and Carmen my wife decided to go there for our honeymoon.

    As I write this we have just got back from Perugia old town and visiting Assisi the day before. Tomorrow we will see Pienza and Montepulciano. Thanks for inspiring me to make the decision to come here, we love exploring and love photographing this beautiful country. Hope I can get some images as beautiful as yours.

    Thanks and best regards,

    Warren and Carmen (La Casetta nel Bosco, Umbria, Italy)

  26. Johnny
    27. September 2014

    Thank you so much for your kind feedback, Warren and Carmen.

    It’s really wonderful to read that my images inspired the two of you to spend your honeymoon in Tuscany. I am so happy that are enjoying your time there so much. Rebecca and I got married in Tuscany and went back many times afterwards. Italy will always have a very special place in my heart.

    I appreciate you taking the time to write me. Thank you!

  27. Tony
    12. February 2015

    Hi, I just came across your blog. I am just speechless, pure perfection and simple muted tones. Loving your work. This blog is very inspiring. I have been searching all around to get the the Kinfolk/Cereal Magazine look… and here it is. Thanks very much and keep up the good work.


  28. Johnny
    14. February 2015

    Tony, thanks very much. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed my work! :)

  29. Zack
    1. March 2015

    Amazing body of work here. Seriously.

    I recently acquired a 500C/M and this set has me itching to know if you shot every image wide open or did you stop down at all?

  30. Johnny
    3. March 2015

    Thanks so much, Zack. That’s very kind of you. :)

    Yes, I almost always shoot wide open. Enjoy your Hasselblad!

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