Memorable Marrakech

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I just got back from spending a week in Marrakech, learning about travel photography (as opposed to general photography which I have been doing for most of my professional life). I have to say it was one of the more intense weeks of my life. A barrage of sights, sounds and smells – in a good way (mostly); from the main square, Jmaa el Fna, with its cacophony of traders and snake charmers, to the darkened corners of covered souks, where as a lone woman, it definitely felt like there was safety in numbers.

 

Mule and old man with load of sacks on a trailer making their way through the souks of the Medina (old walled city), Marrakech. The streets are too narrow for cars and vans so goods are often transported in this time-honoured way.
Mule and old man with load of sacks on a trailer making their way through the souks. The streets are too narrow for cars and vans so goods are often transported in this time-honoured way.

I was there with my OH as part of a group, led by Stephen Studd www.digitalphotographyholidays.com exploring how my garden and landscape work could translate into a slightly more adventurous perspective. Turns out it’s not that different, but there are subtle distinctions: more emphasis on the simple and graphic, for example:

Wooden (cedar) door with painted panels of formal trees in pots, behind intricate white archway at the Palais Bahia, Bahia Palace, Marrakech.
Cedar door with painted panels, behind intricate white archway at the Palais Bahia.
Detail of mosaic tiling at the Palais Bahia, Bahia Palace, Marrakech.
Detail of mosaic tiling at the Palais Bahia.
Detail of bolt and lock on door with flaking paintwork, at the Palais Bahia, Bahia Palace, Marrakech.
Detail of bolt and lock on door with flaking paintwork, at the Palais Bahia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My ‘best bit’, though, was learning how to approach total strangers on the street and asking permission to photograph them. Previously, on various holidays, I’d always wimped out and missed the images. Stephen was very patient and very empowering – the essence (in my mind anyway) of a great teacher.

Old man wearing traditional white skullcap and djellaba covered by modern day coat, sits in the doorway of his shop in the souks of the Medina (old walled city), Marrakech. The shop has faded red wooden doors in rough pink plaster walls,and a window with assorted tangled embroidery threads, plus a packet of cigarettes.
Old man wearing traditional white skullcap and djellaba covered by modern day coat, sits in the doorway of his shop in the souks of the Medina (old walled city), Marrakech. The shop has faded red wooden doors in rough pink plaster walls,and a window with assorted tangled embroidery threads, plus a packet of cigarettes.

We took a day out in the nearby Atlas Mountains, and here the landscape came to the fore.

Sun breaking through the early morning mist just outside Asni, in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains outside Marrakech.
Sun breaking through the early morning mist just outside Asni, in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains outside Marrakech.

My favourite part was arriving footsore and weary, at our Berber guide’s home, where his wife and mother had prepared the best tagine I have ever tasted. It felt really special to be an invited guest, right down to the customary washing of hands before we all dug into a common plate with bread and fingers.

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Hassan (Coco) and his family on the terrace at their home in the Berber village of Imlil, in the Atlas Mountains outside Marrakech. Imlil is 1,740 metres (5,710 ft) above sea level.

And I guess this was the measure of my experience. The sights and sounds were amazing but talking to the people: course members, souk traders, riad staff, people in cafes and restaurants, made this week truly memorable.

Children on their way home from school in the late afternoon, walking through the narrow streets of the Medina (old walled city), Marrakech.
Children on their way home from school in the late afternoon, walking through the narrow streets of the Medina.
Old man in traditional Moroccan Djellaba and white skullcap with barrow of mint for sale in the street in the souks of the Medina, Marrakech.
Old man in traditional Moroccan Djellaba and white skullcap with barrow of mint for sale in the street in the souks of the Medina.
Man wearing traditional Djellaba and Qob (hood) sitting under pink plastered archways outside the former school, Medersa Ben Youssef in the Medina (old walled city), Marrakech.
Man wearing traditional Djellaba and Qob (hood) sitting under pink plastered archways outside the former school, Medersa Ben Youssef.
See my website www.anniegaphotography.co.uk/Marrakech for more images or contact me for licensing. All words and images ©Annie Green-Armytage. Re-blogging and link-sharing on social media is permitted with full accreditation; no other reproduction of any kind permitted without written permission.

3 thoughts on “Memorable Marrakech

  1. Looks like you’ve had a splendid and informative time – wonder if you can use the people images afterwards without release, or did you get one for each person you shot?

    Like

  2. Hi Annette, thanks for your comment – no releases I’m afraid. I understand that some imagery showing cultural reference can be used for editorial without releases, but I am new to this sector, and learning all the time so this may not be correct…

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