It was at the exact moment that I made this photograph of Castel dell’Ovo in Naples, Italy, that I made an important decision about how I would make my travel photography going forward.
It was my first trip to Europe back in 1993. I was fortunate enough to be invited by a friend of mine and her family to tag along for their annual Italy trip. Very generous of them to show this travel newbie how to use a passport, exchange currency, (it was Italian Lire back then, before the Euro), and general how to navigate a foreign country tips. It was nice to be reassured when the hotel desk manager took our passports when we checked in, that we would be getting them back.
We visited several cities during our time there, including one day trip by bus from Rome to Naples, to see the beautiful ancient city of Pompeii. I was really looking forward to that.
The bus took us through the center of Naples, while our guide pointed out various sites of interest as we zoomed past them. It was a bit of a blur.
But eventually we did stop along Via Partenope for a brief few minutes and I distinctly remember thinking to myself, Finally! A chance to make a photograph!
Admittedly, I was still in my early years as a serious photographer, but even as green as I was, I knew that there was simply no way to make any kind of interesting composition out the window of a moving bus. No, I had to be on foot. Taking a good long moment to observe what was in my field of view and maybe walk a few steps back and forth to get a foreground element right where I wanted it.
As it was, I only had time to make six exposures before we were all herded back onto the bus. And this one was the only one I considered to be a potential good one. Granted, we were all anxious to get to Pompeii, but I do distinctly remember saying to myself, that any travel plans I made in the future, needed to have plenty of walking around time.
And I followed that learned lesson from that point on. Choosing to walk several miles in any new city I found myself rather than taking the metro or tram. I found that I learned a city much faster by walking it. I got my sense of direction very quickly. And of course it allowed me to slowly explore and discover any city I found myself in.
I’m grateful for that bus day trip to Pompeii. Both for the opportunity to see an amazingly preserved ancient city, which I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, but perhaps more importantly, learning that I couldn’t really see a city if I couldn’t get off the bus.