April 17, 2014 | Comments Off on Contact Sheet – Morocco 2014
Notes from JP
I anticipated being out of my comfort zone for the majority of my recent DPD adventure to Morocco. As a surreal landscape photographer I’ve had very little experience with street photography and portraiture. It was great practice. I did better than I expected. Practice makes better. While I don’t plan to release any of these images, my vision and skills are stronger for having made them. The questions that were asked and clarified were the most important. “What kind of chemistry is necessary for an authentic event to happen?” “How many ways can you start chemical reactions?” “How long does it take?” “In which peak moment is this most intensely felt?” “How do the images you make reflect your personal relationship to the subject?” Ironically, it might be easier to answer these questions when photographing people than landscapes, but they’re equally valid for both.
I anticipated the days in the deep deserts to be the most personally productive – and I’ve got some good raw material to work with. It’s unfinished. This raises, another good question. “When is work complete enough?” But I made one rough composite, which gave me proof of concept. Though I’m sure there will be surprises along the way, I know where the work is going and what it will take to complete it.
Find out about our next Morocco adventure. Email seth@digitalphotodestinations.
Notes from Seth
Morocco was visually incredibly exciting. The Sahara bought us breathtaking dunes and even a full on sandstorm with a tornado. One of my goals was to photograph the people of Morocco in addition to the colors of Morocco. The best and worst part of the trip was photographing people. I have always had a comfort zone photographing people every since my journalism days but this was different. It was much more challenging and much more rewarding.
The Quran, the Islamic holy book, does not explicitly prohibit the depiction of human figures but in a Muslim country it is generally frowned upon to depict the human figure. Like many photographers I encountered many difficulties shooting portraits in a land where people have superstitious apprehensions towards the camera, and ofter see photography as a tool that steals the soul of the people. That said I also found that it wasn’t purely religious. Morocco has become a vibrant and very busy tourist destination and many of the locals may be feeling increasingly like they are being placed on display or under a microscope- and highly likely multiple times in any one given day!
An interesting and efficient by-product of this is that there has sprung up an unofficial “trade” of sorts whereby it has become the accepted practice for tourists to pay for photo opportunities. As a journalist I hate to ask permission to take a picture because you lose the moment. I did pay the snake charmers and others and I did sneak some frames of folks but I really didn’t feel right.
During our workshop we had one of our participants stand near a wall and then had all of our participants photograph so it became evident what it must be like to be on the other side of the camera. In fact the next time you race up to a subject and start shooting, consider how you may feel if you are busily trying to complete your work or tasks and groups of people kept on shooting frame after frame. To say the least it would be intimidating.
After being very frustrated I decided that there had to be a better way. It took time but patience in portraiture will be rewarded. Clearly if I was able to build a rapport with someone before attempting to photograph them the end result was positive. I found that if I approached someone and simply made chit chat and inquired about their wares or their lives that they were much more inclined to allow me to photograph them.
I wanted to not simply be an observer with my camera but rather to enter someones personal space, and this took time, but in the end it worked.
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