Photo shoot Overlooking Piazza Duomo, Milan (step-by-step)

Hey all,

Hope you enjoyed my previous article on shooting at beautiful Lake Como.

As you can probably tell, I’ve been extremely busy lately with my photography business. Between shooting, which is the most fun part, there’s all the admin: editing, sorting out model releases, keywording, (re)submitting…rinse and repeat.

I’m still hoping that this month (July) will be the month when I’ll have a motivational breakthrough that will propel my photography career to the next level. We’re only halfway through the month and no major sales, but then again July/August are generally slow months.

I’m slowly beginning to yield fruits of my labour. As I always tell people, it’s a marathon not a sprint.

One hand washes another…

There’s an expression in my native Portuguese: “uma mão lava a outra”, which literally translates to one hand washes another. The English equivalent is “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” as in you help me and I’ll help you.

I recently pitched, in my google translate Italian, for an opportunity to photograph at a posh restaurant which overlooks the beautiful Piazza Duomo in the heart of Milan, Italy. The proposal was that I would photograph at their premises in exchange for them using my photos for their own marketing needs. They duly agreed but gave me an awful slot of 11am-13:00 and considering we’re in July, it’s just about the worst time of the day to shoot. I did a similar arrangement with a young model who’s building a modeling portfolio and wrote about it here.

Anyway, I had to make do with this unique opportunity and came prepared with my two cameras – Nikon D800 with a 24-70 f2.8 lens and Nikon D7000 with a 10-20mm f.4-5.6 lens. Even if there was tons of light, I still took my tripod since I planned to make some time lapses to submit as stock footage (link to the final result later).

Piazza Duomo, Italy-6
My D7000 on a tripod capturing a 20-minute time lapse

Using the foreground

I didn’t just want to capture the beautiful piazza by itself, so I looked for interesting foreground elements that buyers may find useful when searching for a travel image about Milan and/or Italy.

Set empty table overlooking Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy
Romantic lunch with a view, now where’s that blonde from Como? It’s a pity that the window-sill cut a bit of the background, but I still feel it’s a premium image. Therefore, I’ve submitted this image to Robert Harding, a specialist travel agency, as Rights-Managed
A drinks balcony overlooking Piazza Duomo in Milan, Italy on a summer day
The restaurant’s patio. I suppose the trade-off of photographing at this time was that the whole place was empty! I believe this is quite a premium and rare image, therefore I’ve submitted this image to Robert Harding, a specialist travel agency, as Rights-Managed

Using props

The most delicious part was using Italy-cliche props on the foreground. When you think of Italy, what do you think of? Pasta, pizza, gelato, the pope…well none of those were readily available so I went with Aperol Spritz and a cappuccino instead. I wanted some salami and olives but the kitchen was not yet open – maybe next time.

Spritz aperol drink in Milan overlooking Piazza Duomo
Due to the time of the shoot, difficult shadows had to be evened out in post-processing for agencies to accept this image. As always, I left plenty of copy space and made the image vibrant…especially the cocktail. Salute! This is going to my micros collection for repeat downloads, hopefully…
Italy Lombardy Milan Milano Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Cappuccino
Same with the cappuccino and tried from different angles until I found one that worked the composition well. Also submitting this to micros for (hopefully) repeat downloads. I didn’t feel like it was quite premium enough to merit Rights-Managed status at Robert Harding due to the lighting

The Piazza

Of course I had to photograph the piazza which includes the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and Duomo Cathedral! I was already privileged to have such an angle but still needed to make things interesting for this image to stand out.

Vittorio Emanuele II monument in Milan - Italy with italian flag
A cliche foreground, interesting nevertheless
Piazza Duomo, Italy-14
Adding the European Union flag in the foreground adds value to the image as this could feature heavily in editorials about the relationship between Italy and the European Union, at the very least. I painstakingly cloned out all ads from the image so this can be accepted as a commercial image
Piazza Duomo, Italy-18
The far end of the piazza features some banana and palm trees which were controversially sponsored by Starbucks coffee which plans to open up in Italy from next year. Again, I cloned out all trademarks and blurred people out. Hopefully this will be accepted as a non-editorial
Piazza Duomo, Italy-16
A close up of the Galleria. This time I left the people and trademarks intact and have submitted this as an editorial to micros
Milan, Italy - July 13th, 2017: Piazza Duomo in Milan, Italy - wide angle
Lastly, the wide angle view of both the cathedral and the galleria as hopefully a non-editorial. Was really struggling with the light as you can see but nailed the composition at 10mm ultra wide angle!

My Time lapse

Here it is on this link on YouTube. 

Some fine art stuff, as always

I’ve always been drawn to fine art images and captured some spiral corridors on the way to the terrace. These will be submitted to Arcangel Images and Fine Art America.

Closing thoughts

I’ve duly submitted the images and video to the restaurant and they seem pleased with the results. They’ve suggested they may need some photo services soon and will contact me.  Perhaps they’ll even invite me to capture an event or some interior photographic work, who knows!

I try to make my luck! It’s important to always look out for opportunities outside of Microstock.

Until next time!





  1. Great images and interesting story. You did well with pretty difficult lighting. Time lapse was good as well. Have you investigated one of those little rotating timers for your timelapse. I use this for a GoPro, but there are probably bigger ones for your camera:

    It gives a nice bit of movement to a timelapse.

    I don’t know if you could have reached them, but the images with the flags would have been better if you could have unrolled the flag from around the pole!


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