Naples, the City of Pompeii and Herculaneum

After a fairly busy summer school, and between photographing two weddings, me and Emily booked ourselves a holiday to Naples. We were looking forward to seeing the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as all the lovely food and drink that seems to come as standard in Italy.

Unfortunately we had not anticipated that our arrival would coincide with a bank holiday, which rendered public transport useless for two days. To resolve the problem, we decided to hire a car to get around. This was both the best and worst decision we made. It was great to be able to get around after two days of lounging by the hotel pool, but we were in for a shock when we checked the small print and saw how much it cost. Hindsight and all that.

These photos are some of my favourites from our surprisingly eventful few days in the bay of Naples, subdivided for ease of consumption.

 

Pozzouli

When we discovered the trains weren’t running, we decided to potter around the delightful industrial district that is Pozzouli, which is where our hotel is based. Photographing derelict buildings made for some interesting photos, although not quite on par with Pompeii and Herculaneum.

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Pompeii

We finally managed to hire a car and drove to Pompeii. The queues were lengthy but were made easier by photographing the people in the line. In fact, even when we got in most of the photos ended up being focused on people’s interaction with the ruins.

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Sorrento & Positano

Next on the to-do list was Sorrento. The hair-raising roads were one of the reasons we initially decided against hiring a car, and it is astonishing how dangerously people drive in Italy. Every other car is battered from some collision or other, but the worst part of driving in Italy are the moped drivers. They weave in and out of traffic quite impressively, but you constantly feel like you’re one corner away from knocking someone off their bike and into a coma. Luckily the worst scrape we had was hitting some guy’s arm with our wing mirror, which avoided doing serious damage to either party.

Shortly after that, we parked the car and got on the bus to Positano. Apparently Italians like to visit the Sorrento area the week after bank holiday, so it was exceptionally busy around there. At one point the bus was delayed due to someone falling off their moped (surprise, surprise). Once we got there, Positano turned out to be as spectacular as everyone who recommended it to us said it would be.

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Herculaneum

For our final day in Naples we visited another ruinous site called Herculaneum. In some ways, it was even more fascinating than Pompeii. It was also a lot quieter. The site is in the middle of the city so it is surrounded by modern buildings. Who knows how much stuff lies underneath the streets of Naples, but the stuff they have uncovered is remarkable. It has been better preserved due to the different composition of fallout from the volcano. There are complex structures and detailed murals everywhere, and even organic material like wood has been preserved. What’s amazing is you can smell the scorched wood to this day, nearly 2000 years after the eruption.

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Naples, the City of Pompeii and Herculaneum


School’s out for Summer School

Summer School-25Summer School Students on Assignment, July 2016.

School has been out for some weeks now, but it has been replaced by the slightly more laid-back summer school. I’ve just finished a four week stint, which consists of receiving a new batch of students each week, from far flung corners of the world.

There may be less pressure than teaching students for a year, but teaching the same group for five days solid is exhausting. In a week, I go through the equivalent of a whole term’s worth of lessons, so it’s a pretty fast-paced schedule.

One week I had a very lively group of Columbians to entertain. I don’t think I will forget the sight of 14 Columbian teenagers doing synchronised dance moves in the car park on their break time. In fact, they seemed far more interested in dancing than taking photos most of the time. The following weeks were more familiar, with a mix of European and Chinese students. Pleasingly, most of the students got something out of it and seemed grateful for the experience.

My plan for the students was to show them how to use a camera, then help them edit their photos for a book which they could design from scratch, and get made via the bookmaking platform Blurb. Most of them were keen, and around half the students went for it and got a book made, which I think is a pretty high take-up rate, considering they had to pay out of their own pockets.

To make the repeated lessons a bit more interesting, I would take a camera out with me and join the students in taking photos. I think it helps if the teacher is enjoying the act of taking photos alongside the students. It also makes demonstrating what to do next a bit easier. Anyhow, I ended up making a photo book of my own. I’m not the biggest fan of Blurb, but you can’t fault £25 for a photo book. You can preview the book by clicking here, or alternatively have a look at the photos below. All the photos were taken on entry level cameras with the cheapest zoom lens available, and I think it shows how much the quality of digital cameras have improved in the last 10 years.

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Summer School 2016