Marrakech:a photographers guide
Ive read a series of interesting and helpful photographic articles over the years on guides & tips about taking photographs in Marrakech. All of which are helpful in there own way and offer some good advice. However, I thought Id put together a definitive photographic guide to help you along the way. You might be a budding travel photographer, a street photographer or perhaps just a tourist with a camera looking for a selection of holiday snaps. Ive put together a few helpful hints and guidelines that I hope you'll find useful whilst capturing Marrakech at its best.
Its obvious when you arrive in Marrakech that it has very different culture & lifestyle that you might normally be use to. Please be aware of that. Islam is the dominant religion in Morocco, the Sunni varinat in particular. First pointer for you is Don't think about rolling off a few shots once you have arrived. You'll automatically draw attention to yourself by either the local police or airport security. They'll ask you to stop!
Once you've exited the airport terminate, its time to release your shutter! But, beware. This could be your first experience of being charged for taking the most basic's of shots. All walks of life are switched on to the fact that if a tourist happens to raises a camera in their direction, that equates to 'money'. This is something your going to experience in Marrakech time after time. Travelling to your Riad or Hotel is an experience in itself and is a great opportunity to grab yourself a shot.
A good point to remember here is that if a local does catch you pointing the camera at him/her, lower the camera straight away and turn away from them. Try and be quick with the shot you'd like to grab. It will save you a lot of hassle
Useful phrases that will help
They have two main languages in Marrakech, Arabic and French. Ive found in the past that if you take a little time to understand their language it shows you've taken a little time and effort to understand them. So here's a few Arabic words/phrases that you'll find useful. Check out Linda's You Tube top 10 common Arabic phrases.
So, Your ready to go. Its time to roll off some film or digi. There are several main attractions that everyone heads seems to head for. The square (Jamaa el Fna) and the souks. You'll find snake charmers, monkeys, medicine men, local dentists. Remember this, everything has a price include the shots you'd like to grab. All of the locals are pleased to see you as you generally have a large sign above your head saying 'money'. Lift or point your camera anywhere in this square and you'll be charged. What ever you give them, they'll always ask for more. Be strong and say 'La' No.
Be a little stealth in your approach. Lower your camera down by your side of your leg and grab a shot this way. If your running manual, my preference, pre set your settings prior to rolling off a few shots. You can get some great results with a little patience. Bear in mind that you'll have to be quick. The locals eyes are everywhere. If your seen grabbing that sneaky shot this way, they'll come after you for money. The two shots below were taken using that lowered camera method I mentioned . Personally, I think the square is far more interesting in the evening
No matter where you go in Marrakech, there's always sometime that will catch your eye. I found the more interesting subject's away from the general tourist spots. My broken Arabic helped me out with these shots. I asked them if I could take a shot of them and then offered them a small fee in return for their time. That worked! Don't be surprised if locals wave their hand and so 'LA' - No. Respect that...
So, take care where you point your camera. Carry plenty of coins and expect to be hassled where ever you travel in Marrakech. Its all part of the experience.