won•der (n.) a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar
or inexplicable. (v.) 1. desire or be curious to know something. 2. to feel admiration + amazement. marvel.
what is finding wonder?
the concept of finding wonder was born out of my own desire to witness + capture the amazingly, overwhelming beauty around me. for me — its purpose was just that. find. wonder. it became my mantra. in every piece of life.
be still. quiet. and open to it. i was desperate for it. i needed it. as a life source — as my breath. i picked up my camera and where my own eyes had failed me, i began to see beauty through my lens. i began to find the wonder of the things around me. seemingly small, insignificant things. those little things grew into bigger things + moments
+ slivers of time. finding wonder is a journey, however, i truly believe that when we are open to seeking it — we
will find it. everywhere.
finding wonder + artful storytelling — CINQUE TERRE, ITALY
with the italian riviera as our backdrop, we will set out into the beautifully colored, sea-side villages of the italian riviera in search of wonder. this 5 day, WOMEN's ONLY, photography retreat is dedicated to creating a space of rich connection + growth within your photography. during this intimate gathering, our time will be spent in self-exploration, discussion, demonstration + hands-on learning, as well as pushing each attendee to find her own voice within the lens of her camera. there will be deluxe accommodations, amazing italian food + drink, the quintessential italian bike tour through the old train tunnels to bonassola, day trips throughout the riviera via the regional train, as well as a private boat tour to witness the amazing landscape of the riviera from the mediterranean sea. YOU will also have a bit of free time to wander the village of levanto or explore on the regional train into the evening on your own or with friends. this is one of my favorite places in the entire world and i have no doubt, it will become one of yours as well.
nestled into the hillside of the village of levanto, the lovely villa valentina, http://villavalentina5terre.com will be our home away from home for the duration of our stay. with the most deliberate attention to detail, each bright guest room is luxuriously appointed to ensure an incredible stay. in each ensuite room, you will find luxurious bed linens + down pillows, rain showers + deliciously scented bath products. there is also a complimentary mini bar, in-room coffee + tea set, housekeeping, music sound dock, hairdryer and wifi. this gorgeous, private villa is a short 5 minute train ride away from the neighboring “cinque terre” where we
will set out find all of the wonder that the ligurian coast has to offer.
finding wonder + artful storytelling will take place beginning late afternoon on monday, september 16th (check-in at 3pm) and ending late morning saturday, september 21st, 2019 (check-out at 11am).
this intimate, retreat is 5 days full of photography - focused content, including finding wonder + artful storytelling guide, demonstrations + group discussions where we will explore the concepts within finding wonder — light, composition, point-of-view, story telling + capturing emotion. this retreat will host a TOTAL OF 7 WOMEN MAXIMUM with 5 nights accommodations (including a delicious italian breakfast each morning) at the lovely villa valentina in levanto, italy; welcome dinner + wine, train transportation between the villages from levanto, private boat tour, bike tour + farewell dinner. $2950.00 (usd)
your reservation can be paid in two installments. an initial deposit of $1450 is due within 2 days of your application acceptance. second and final installment of $1500 is due no later than july 12th, 2019 for a total of $2950.00*. the first deposit of $1450 is non-refundable, but may be transferred to another attendee with permission. each attendee will have her own accommodations, however, if sharing a room is preferred, that may be arranged.
*the above rate does not include airfare, additional lodging, transportation to and from levanto, gratuities + additional 75(euro) collected at the end for staff at villa valentina), or meals (other than stated).
additional details + suggestions:
it is required that you have a firm understanding of how your camera works as we will not be spending time learning how to use your camera. you may utilize any camera that you are comfortable with, i.e. dslr, point + shoot, iPhone, etc.
your travel to and from levanto is up to you. i am happy to suggest airports in italy and how to make connections to get to levanto. typically, one can take a regional train from any major city (milan, rome) to levanto fairly easily. i would suggest a first class train ticket as this will give you an assigned seat and space for your luggage. i would encourage you to take additional time to explore italy on your own beyond the retreat dates. it is a beautiful country and so easy to navigate.
it is strongly encouraged that you purchase travel insurance for this retreat. you can find this through an independent company and i am happy to suggest one if needed or you can book through your own travel agent.
what they are saying:
“Finding Wonder Italy is an amazing opportunity for any photographer - amateur, professional or in-between. The Cinque Terre region of Italy is so picturesque that there’s a photo opportunity at every turn. Chandra Sandoval has that artistic eye that everyone wants - and she will teach you what she knows. She is a wonderful leader and organizer and the trip is a pure pleasure. Villa Valentina is a treat in and of itself, such a cozy and accommodating b&b. If you have wanted to see a part of Italy besides the usual tourist cities, go on this trip. You will learn so much about Italy, photography, and yourself!”
–peggy chico keelan, texas
“a woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. she goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.’ -maya angelou…my dear friend, thank you for relentlessly chasing your dreams, inspiring us to be better storytellers through photography and introducing us to the beauty and charm of the italian riviera. wonder found.”
–denise knabjian, illinois
“i truly don't know where to begin trying to describe my Finding Wonder - Italy experience. Every detail has been carefully considered for this trip. For example, the Villa Valentina, and the people there, are simply amazing. The schedule allows for seeing, hearing and capturing stories every day…Chandra carefully orchestrates the schedule so that each person has time to receive what she needs on this retreat. What words cannot describe is the sense of fellowship with the other participants. Even months later I can still hear all the laughter and feel the hugs. Chances are, this trip just may change your life, or at least give you a bit of a break.”
–wendy huddleston-bloom, wisconsin
“chandra sandoval!!! where do i begin? i get teary thinking about all the love she exudes. i attended her finding wonder photography retreat in cinque terre, italy last week. words don’t really do justice to the amazing experience i had there. i saw her post about having one last spot for the retreat on instagram last fall, and truly felt god telling me i needed to attend. i was exhausted for many different reasons and wanted to do something for myself. chandra pushed 7 women to find themselves, quiet their minds, and to breathe. we explored what it means to find wonder…there were tears and laughter as we shared about ourselves and our journey with photography. i have made 7 new wonderful friends…i will be processing this retreat for weeks to come.”
–nichole quinn, texas
“Chandra Sandoval, in her inaugural Finding Wonder Retreat, guided seven women photographers into a shallow river in the hills above the Cinque Terre, Italy to
learn about light, to reflect on the beauty of nature, and to slow down time...I’m proud to have been a part of this experience, and to call you friend...”
–kelly harvill, washington
“what was she seeing…? as i watched this woman navigate her way through bonassola, this is what was going thru my mind. we walked the streets of the cinque terre together, with our cameras and captured different stories, our stories. we collaborated, we shared and shared so much more than just images. we shared our souls with one another. if you are looking for a way to reconnect with yourself, reconnect with your photography, you must check out chandra sandoval and finding wonder. her retreats are incredible…you will find wonder, and maybe even find you.”
–cindy knight, missouri