I arrived in Morocco on the back of a time of upheaval. To be honest the last 6 months has been an extended period of moving and relocating and this had left me a little jaded. I was in a bit of a creative funk and coming into land I was a bit anxious. Was I going to be able create something?
My first afternoon was just spent acclimatizing myself and reminding myself what a great place Marrakech and Morocco is. The smells, the sights, the sounds, it is a unique experience. The evening buzz of the Djamma El Fna is amazing and you really can’t help but get drawn in. The street performers were in good voice and the food stalls were serving up amazing looking culinary delights. Marrakech has really developed into a tourist destination behemoth, and this has made it increasingly difficult to photograph in.
I got up early the next morning to photograph as the sun rose. I knew that there would be fewer tourists and more locals just getting on with things. Due to my funk, though, I was not as confident or creative as I wanted to be and I struggled to really capture anything approaching a decent photo. Even at this hour everyone is wary of the camera and as there were no tourists around I stood out. I was told not to photograph a motorcycle leaning against a wall, before being moved on. On the bright side is was really pleasant just wandering around at that time, people watching without the hassle of later on in the day.
As I was walking through the back end of the souks (the most interesting part, due to it mostly a local area) I was told by a gentleman “I should head back to the main square” which was back the way I had come. He said that there was a “terrorist market” the way I was heading and I wouldn’t want to come across that. When I pressed him about this he changed his conviction “There maybe a terrorist market, I don’t know”. No doubt he wanted to guide me back to “big square” resulting in a good number of Dirahm being passed his way, so I ignored his advice and carried on in the direction I was walking. I never came across a terrorist market.
The afternoon was spent seeing some sights as the sun was quite high and the light was very contrasty. We visited the Bhadi Palace which is the temporary home of the MMP (Marrakech museum for photography and visual arts). They had some good work on show from Eve Arnold. They are currently building the new museum, which will become the biggest in Africa dedicated to photography and the visual arts. I will be interested to visit it when it is completed.
In the end I accepted that I just wasn’t on the ball photographically and enjoyed the rest of the day walking around the city and tried not to beat myself up over it.
I was hoping to do this blog on a daily basis, but the Internet can be a bit sketchy at times, so it will be more as and when. I am travelling up to the Atlas Mountains to a town called Imlil, so the next blog post may be a bit slow coming.