Monthly Archives: August 2012

Professional Travel Photography – Italy 2012 – Naples

Professional Travel Photography – Italy – 2012


“Lost to a world in which I crave no part, I sit alone and commune with my heart. Pleased with my little corner of earth, glad to have come, not sorry to depart”.

— DH Lawrence

2012 brought along a new Travel Photography opportunity for me to return to Italy. I vowed never to photograph Italy in July again, but Naples and the Amalfi Coast was just something I could not pass up on. Last year, Florence and the Cinque Terra, was sizzling and made my Professional Travel Photography more like a burden. It is unbearably hot, over crowded and especially whilst carrying photography equipment without an Assistant. Yet there is something so special about Italy, that I claim, if there is such a thing as having a previous life, then I must have been Italian! I love the country, life style, food, history, culture, architecture and her people. André Gide said, “Ravello is closer to the sky than to the shore”. I would like to customize this quote so that it reads, “Italy is closer to heaven than it is to the shore”.

When I knew I would be photographing Naples and the Amalfi Coast this year again as a Professional Travel Photographer, it was an automatic decision to take on the journey. After last year's errors I was more prepared in 2012. Travel lighter, take less equipment and make the lenses work for you rather than having too many lenses that I would not need. Professional Travel Photography is all about clever usage of your equipment, and I am glad I experienced last year in order to learn for this year.

Many said that Naples is not nearly as popular as the North of Italy including Venice, Florence, Bergamo and Milan. Many tourists stay away from Naples due to the poverty. What excited me about Naples was that Italy intensifies the further south you go. Naples is Italy in the extreme! Yes this is what I looked forward to, the true typical Napolitano style…it’s best known as the birthplace of pizza and Sophia Loren, and it’s worst being the home of the Camorra, Naples’ family of organized crime. The poverty in the Spanish Quarter and old city of Naples is virtually unbearable…but I went through it and enjoyed it. It was fascinating. It provided for fascinating Professional Travel Photography.

2, 500 years ago, Neapolis (New City) was a thriving Greek commercial center, and today it remains southern Italy’s leading City offering a fascinating collection of museums, churches, eclectic architecture, Castles and a mesmerizing underground city that was build and used during the world wars as refuge for the woman and children. Truly fascinating to see and photograph…truly spine tingling and emotional to experience. Walking through its colorful Old Town including the Spanish Quarter was mind blowing and such a happy as well as sad experience. At night the street people with all their possessions they have left with them, sleep on the pavements, on park benches, and building entrances. Some had three dogs and children in prams, some alone, but it opened my eyes to what we have and what is precious to us…and why we are so lucky. People living in the Spanish Quarter live like termites in a mound all on top of each other, in such a tiny space. This is low living (basso) at it’s most classic. “Families generally do it in the road”. This is the cliché of life in Naples, as shown in so many movies. The Spanish Quarter is Naples at its rawest, poorest, and most characteristic. Local shopkeepers tug at their lower eyelids warning you to be careful. Yet, it was so colorful, friendly and one of my best experiences that whilst I was downing another Birra Peroni at a sidewalk pizzeria, a young couple advised me to spend an evening with the locals at a typical Neapolitan Restauranté called Da Nennella to experience the true life of the Napolitans. A seismic explosion of typical joy, culture, fun, food and music rolled into a very noisy production that has to be experienced to be enjoyed. Scintillating Professional Travel Photography at its best!

With more than one million people Naples has no open parks and spaces which makes its position as Europe’s most densely populated city very evident. It was comical watching the police try to enforce traffic sanity in Italy’s grittiest, most polluted and most crime-ridden city. Wherever I went, stopped, ate, drank, photographed, people would say to me in a hushed way, “specsiale attenzione photographica”…”pay special attention to your camera equipment”. It was quite nerve racking especially in the densely populated areas but I never experienced one incident of crime while I was there, lucky, or just oblivious to the beauty, I would not have known unless I was directly involved. What I did notice about Naples and that was very evident, is that most of its people are far more accommodating and friendly than the locals in Florence or the Cinque Terra. It’s as if they are going out of their way to make you welcome due to the stigma attached to Naples. They want you to come to Naples, whereas in Florence, I felt as a tourist and travel photographer as if I was invading their space and I wasn’t welcome. Naples truly surprised me as an avid professional travel photographer with its impressive knack for surviving, living, eating, and raising children in the streets with good humor and decency. What I did was to overcome the fear of being run down by speeding vespers and being ripped off by Napolitano street urchins long enough to stop and talk to the local people, ask them if I could photograph them, shared a smile and a joke about their football team and then I felt like I belonged there. It was inspiring.

The pulse of Italy throbs in Naples. Just like Cairo, Mumbai or Pataya, it’s atrocious and captivating at the same time, it’s the closest thing to what I truly enjoy in “professional travel photography” that I have experienced and that you will find in Western Europe. Yet I still felt that this “boxed-in” “tangled mess of a city", overshadowed by the ominous Mount Vesuvius, still somehow manages to breathe, laugh, and sing – with a charming and captivating Italian accent that I truly loved and I wanted so much to be a professional travel photographer in Naples, and for the three days i was there, it was totally unbelieveable and worth it.

So it was with utter awe I said goodbye to Naples, a living medieval city where couples artfully make love on Vespers surrounded by more fights, poverty and smiles per cobblestone than anywhere else in Italy, and headed for the Amalfi Coast where I would be stationed at the beautiful San’Angela, a suburb of Sorrento so I could continue on my journey of professional travel photographer.

For more of these images and other stories please visit me on Face Book at Ian Cooper Photography.