Koutoubia tower in Marrakesh

Koutoubia tower in Marrakesh

Visiting Morocco on the northwestern edge of the African continent is a fantastic destination for travellers and photographers to explore. There are  many unique and exotic images to capture and the variety of subject is quite diverse ranging from food, souks and shopping, historic districts and monuments, people, scenic or panoramic vistas or any specialty interests that you may want to explore on your to visit. For the travel photographer visiting here for the first time, there are a few things that you should consider in regard to travel, photography and safety when you visit any of the cities or sites around the country. Following are some key tips and considerations to keep in mind before you start your adventure to Morocco and begin taking those incredible photographs.


Visiting and touring Morocco

Getting around

Travel to the main cities of Marrakesh, Casablanca, Rabat, Agadir and Fez are all accessible by air service from Europe and many international airports.  Transportation to the various cities and attractions around the country are easily connected via train service, bus, rental car or a hired driver. It’s better to plan and arrange all your transport in between these destinations in advanced or arrange through an established agency to help you set up a tour itinerary and make sure that your trip will go smoothly.

Photography no-nos

Taking photos of the beautiful landscapes, tourist attractions and other travel sites is wonderful, but this country generally speaking is not an open society. Taking pictures of people in various forms of activity or portraiture is not usually a common practise or acceptable in public venues throughout the country. Most locals and other ethnic races do not like to have their picture taken and will be quite vocal and sometimes hostile if you do so without first asking or attempting to ask them. Usually the best response from any looks or aggressive gestures to your taking pictures will be to just nod apologetically at them, do not take any more pictures or leave the premises. Focus on a different subject or another direction not aimed at any person or groups in the vicinity but more broad captures of a particular scene.  If you are interested in taking photos with local people in your photography, the best solutions for doing any portrait work of individuals or groups would include:

* Take larger panned shots of a crowd in a market or scene so it looks more like you taking a picture broadly instead of focusing on people.

* If you do approach someone, try to show rapport and then ask or gesture with your camera and smile, and perhaps they will consent to having their photos taken.

* Vendors selling a craft, food or products are used to tourist taking their photos, the rule is to always ask first.

* Many tourist venues will have costumed workers that are okay with photos, always ask first

* Costumed locals (ie ornately dressed water carriers or snake charmers) are available for photographs and are expecting to be paid for a photo. The key here is to ask first and how much before you take that photo, and negotiate the price if it’s too good to pass up taking that photo.

* Make a reservation for any tourist organized activities and performances which will include employees dressed in costume as part of the event and typically allow for pictures of people.

* Bring a long lens to focus tight from a distance if you are planning on including street scenes with people in the shots.

Again, if you do attempt any of the above and someone tells you or gestures sternly, just smile and nod apologetically and do not continue. There will be other opportunities down the road to capture scenes with local people in the right situation.

Other photo and security considerations

Make sure you bring only what is essential to use on your daily adventures. Consider just bringing your camera and favorite lens, accessories and media disks. Try to keep your accessories to a smallest quantity so it will be easy to walk comfortably and you will feel secure about carrying minimal equipment.

* When not using your camera make sure that you store it securely in a carry case or back pack away from view.

* Try to limit your jewelry, carry-ons and accessories to a minimum when walking around crowded areas

* Always account for your belongings during and after you get to a destination, restaurant or places that you rest or take a break.

* Be aware of your surroundings especially in very crowded areas and narrow alleyways

* Any carry case or bag should be worn across and over your shoulder, mens wallets should be placed in their front pockets

* Since this is a muslim country, women and men should dress more conservatively and not show too much skin.

* Try to avoid wearing western travel or popular branded gear including tank tops, sneakers and shorts.

If you keep any of these considerations in mind when you go out on your photo excursions, you will have less to worry about and will not run into the typical and unpleasant issues that may arise from your photography and excursions.

For a little more history, culture, religion and people of Morocco, check out this post for more essential Morocco travel tips. Stay tuned for the next upcoming posts touring the popular and lively Moroccan city of Marrakesh.

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