The Amalfi Coast possesses a magnetism that attracts photographers in hoards, each hoping to capture its legendary romance anew. There are dappled grottos, lemon and olive groves, candy-striped parasols on pebble beaches and furrowed cliffs that plunge into the deep. There is pizza and pasta to be demolished in cosy restaurants, and boutiques brimming with expensive linen, monopolised by petite, high-heeled women. There are tiny cars with three wheels and shouty drivers. The sea is a persuasive shade of blue, and as clichéd as it may sound, this southern stretch of Italian coastline pretty much epitomises La Dolce Vita.
So, it seems a fitting location for Huawei to celebrate their new P20 Pro Leica-lensed phone, with a photography masterclass to hone our (admittedly amateur) phone-wielding skills. We’re always game for a challenge here at Candid, and where better to put the P20 Pro to the test than one of the most photographed places on earth?
But first – to Germany. In the sleepy town of Wetzlar, about an hour from Frankfurt, lies Leitz-Park, where we’re given an inside glimpse of Leica’s headquarters. The sprawling complex comprises a museum, a photography academy, a gallery, an archive and a workshop.
Displayed in curved glass cases are some of the most iconic photographs ever taken on Leica cameras, among them ‘The Napalm Girl’ by Nick Ut and Alfred Eisenstaedt’s ‘V-Jay Day in Times Square’ (which immediately sparks a lively debate on staging). Our hotel, arcona Living Ling Ernst Leitz, is conveniently located within the Leitz-Park grounds, and it’s clean, minimalist and comfortable. We’re joined by fashion photographer Alex Lambrechts, who has been tasked with setting up a series of shoots and giving us the lowdown on the P20 Pro’s ample features.
Multiple Leica lenses aside, at first glance, the Huawei P20 Pro is definitely less phone camera and more camera phone – there’s a fair amount to learn, with clever features pairing exposure and focus, as well as various modes such as Pro, allowing you to alter iso and save in RAW.
While it appears to be a phone designed for people that know their way around a camera, the inbuilt AI Intelligence (which can be switched off, for the experts among you) means that anyone can wave their P20 Pro at just about anything, and come away with a clean, vibrant shot. Including, most impressively, while shooting in the dark.
So, tips and tricks in tow, we fly to Naples. There’s much gesticulating, bad driving and colourful conversations to absorb among the city’s faded facades and alleys coated in graffiti, but our first real test begins at the legendary archaeological site of Pompeii. Under the ominous gaze of Mount Vesuvius, we explore excavated Roman ruins, peeling frescoes, a stone amphitheatre and cobbled roads framing views of the Neapolitan coast. Suitably photographed out, we wrap up the day at Naples staple Sorbillo for classic Neapolitan pizzas, and then tumble into bed at the Renaissance Naples Hotel Mediterraneo.
Morning coaxes mist from the glinting sea, and we’re ferried along slinky cliffside roads towards the Amalfi Coast. We meander along whitewashed streets in Positano until a curling staircase spits us onto the beach, and then pile into some of Cassiopea’s motorboats to check out the shore from the sea. Following the rugged coast, we glide past Villa Amalfi Costiera – once the property of screen siren Sophia Loren and film producer Carlo Ponti – and the glamorous Il San Pietro del Positano, a family-run hotel coveted by the likes of George Clooney and Julia Roberts.
There are caramel cliffs and statuesque rock formations to capture, and with the help of stylist Geoff Cooper, Alex Lambrechts encourages model Jasmin Brunner into the water in a sequin dress, so that we can trial the P20 Pro in a trickier environment. Our efforts are rewarded with lunch on a breezy terrace in the historic town of Amalfi.
The next challenge takes us to Sorrento to board a helicopter. From above, the land takes on the texture of leather, soft and creased, studded with teeny pastel buildings. In no time we’re soaring over Capri, getting closer to the waves than the pilot would care to admit, and snapping away with great intent. Once the vertigo has subsided, we’re let loose in Sorrento’s streets.
Alex explains the art of street photography, creating stories with candid moments and unusual sights. “Let things get in the way of your shots,” he tells us, “the blur of a motorbike could make a shot so much more interesting.” Unfortunately, we have no evidence to prove him right, because a gelato stall got in the way of the lens. But nevertheless, it’s safe to say that the Huawei P20 Pro packs a punch for high-tech features that set the bar higher than any phone we’ve tried before, wrapped up in a slick, souped-up package – and it goes without saying that the Amalfi Coast is just the place to take it.