Leica M10 | 50mm Summilux ASPH | F8 | 1/1000 | ISO 2000
I am not sure where to start with this one, as there is so much to say about Marrakech. It is a crazy place in every way, one that assaults the senses and keeps you on your toes at all times. For the most part I really liked it, but there were some parts of it that I really didn’t.
Leica M10 | 50mm Summilux ASPH | F2 | 1/125 | ISO 2500
I cannot speak highly enough of the place we stayed; Riad Zouina – http://www.riad-zouina.com/ – the people were lovely and very welcoming and the building and accommodation was beautiful; very ornate and decorated in a traditional style. The food and drink there was sensational too, so if you are looking for somewhere to stay…
Leica M10 | 50mm Summilux ASPH | F8 | 1/500 | ISO 100
A Riad in the Medina (the main hub of Marrakech) is a must when staying here. Hotels are fine, but you miss out on the gorgeous homely feel of traditional accommodation. Normally a family run home or palace, with gardens or courtyards, a Riad really is worth the extra few Dirham it might cost. And when I say extra, they’re still extremely good value.
Leica M10 | 28mm Summilux | F1.4 | 1/125 | ISO 200
From the moment our taxi dropped us off at the end of our road, we knew this would be a trip to remember. Mopeds screaming past only an inch away, donkeys pulling carts, guys selling goods on the roadside, basically it’s just chaos, but in a good way. You really feel part of a living city from the first minute.
Leica M10 | 50mm Summilux ASPH | F2 | 1/500 | ISO 100
Thankfully it was a short walk down a cobbled street and some of the locals even provide a luggage transport service for a small fee. I gave the nice man 200 dirham for a 150 yard journey which I thought was fair, I was later told however that I had paid him about ten times too much. Still, he was a nice guy and he had a big smile on his face, so to me it was worth it. We arrived at a large ornate metal door, that was to be our Riad. You would really have no idea that a stunning palace was hidden behind it, discreet was an understatement!
Leica M10 | 21mm Super Elmar | F6.3 | 1/60 | ISO 250
We wandered out on the first night to try and get our bearings, which we completely failed at having stopped at one of the first restaurants we came across. This little place however, set the tone for the food we ate for the whole trip, Tagine. I had never eaten tagine before and it didn’t really sound like my kind of dish; meat with nuts and dried fruit, but man it was one of the nicest, most flavoured meals I’d ever eaten. I don’t think a day went by without at least one tagine. I was completely sold.
Leica M10 | 50mm Summilux ASPH | F5.6 | 1/180 | ISO 320
Leica M10 | 28mm Summilux | F2 | 1/350| ISO 200
Tiffany had pencilled in quite a few things for us to do and see in and around the city. It was very evident that photographic opportunities in Marrakech would be frequent so I was not overly concerned about going anywhere in particular. One of the first places we ventured to was the Marjorelle Gardens. If you can make it here at off peak times, there are some fantastic photo opportunities, but we got there at a very busy period and I couldn’t quite get the images that I wanted. I made the most of the opportunity though and having supremely bright colours and detailed mosaics dotted around makes for some nice imagery on its own.
Leica M10 | 50mm Summilux ASPH | F2.8 | 1/125 | ISO 800
One of my favourite ‘tourist’ places was the Bahia Palace. It has the most intricate detailed mosaics that I have ever seen. It’s attention to detail is remarkable and it has a strangely timeless design and style. Again, it can get busy so get there early if possible. Photography wise though it is a very creative place. It’s definitely one of the better attractions and a few photos below hopefully illustrate that.
Leica M10 | 50mm Summilux ASPH | F2.8 | 1/250 | ISO 200
Leica M10 | 50mm Summilux ASPH | F4 | 1/350 | ISO 500
Jemaa el-Fnaa. The hub of the Medina; this square is probably the most popular place to visit in Marrakesh. It’s very well connected, very central and very busy! If you are not strong willed you will likely end up with a gallon of fruit juice, a henna tattoo and photo with a macaque wearing a Lionel Messi shirt, none of which you wanted and all for a handsome sum, and you’ll come out feeling like you had no choice in any of it either. The biggest issue with it though, is that in the heat of the day, hawks, monkeys, turtles and other animals sit in cages while tourists pay to watch them or take a photo with them. I do not get this and I wish it didn’t happen, but sadly it does. The views from here though, are pretty awesome, especially at sunset. The two roads that lead to the Koutoubia Mosque make for a pretty stunning image in the evening, and the colours of the sky are beautiful.
Leica M10 | 50mm Summilux ASPH | F5.6| 1/125 | ISO 200
Leica M10 | 28mm Summilux | F8 | 1/125 | ISO 800
My last gripe. You will soon learn that almost all of the people offering you help, are doing so only for money, which I guess is fair enough. But over a week, the constant sound of people telling you that you are ‘going the wrong way’ or ‘the square is this way’ (even though you have just come from the square) does wear a bit thin. What people have to remember about this though, is that the locals doing this can earn far more money from ‘helping’ tourists than the average wage in Marrakesh, so you cannot blame them for doing so at all. In fact it’s kind of entrepreneurial.
Leica M10 | 50mm Summilux ASPH | F5.6| 1/250 | ISO 200
I was pretty pleased that we got some of the main ‘to-do list’ out of the way. What I love most about travelling is exploring at my own pace, getting lost amongst the local people, finding more organic photo opportunities and not ones that everyone else has taken before, and numerous times. Hence why the main attractions don’t appeal to me as much.
Leica M10 | 50mm Summilux ASPH | F8| 1/350 | ISO 12500
Leica M10 | 50mm Summilux ASPH | F1.4| 1/250 | ISO 250
Fuji X100F | F5.6| 1/320 | ISO 200
Tiff and I spent the next few days just exploring the city, with no real plan other than to spend some time getting to know Marrakesh and just see what we stumbled across. The Souks are almost impossible not to find and they are undoubtedly worth walking through, and a couple of times too. Although many of the shop workers want a sale, they are great to chat too and most have a real charm about them. There’s nothing better while travelling than to meet people and connect with them, and Marrakesh is a great place for that. It also really helps to break the ice if you plan on shooting images of people there. A few tips about this too; locals can be superstitious and some really don’t appreciate having their photo taken, so make sure you ask first. This also applied to photographing goods and products sold in and around the Souks, just ask first.
Leica M10 | 28mm Summilux | F4 | 1/250 | ISO 250
Leica M10 | 28mm Summilux | F1.4 | 1/250 | ISO 2500
My favourite area of Marrakesh was around the Mellah district and across to the Moulay El Yazid Mosque. This is in the southwest part of the city and has a very relaxed feel to it. It’ll give you a little break from the crowds and there are some great photo opportunities here, in fact some of my best images from the trip were from this area. You will notice the lack of tourists here too, which is great. You really feel like you are getting to know the real Marrakesh here.
Fuji X100F | F8| 1/480 | ISO 200
Fuji X100F | F8| 1/340 | ISO 200
If you are a reportage, street or just general travel photographer and like getting to know different cultures (which I love) then Marrakesh is going to really do it for you! It’s supremely photogenic and the opportunities are genuinely unlimited. I really was in my element.
Leica M10 | 50mm Summilux ASPH | F8| 1/250 | ISO 800
Fuji X100F | F8| 1/280 | ISO 200
So all in all, Marrakesh is an experience I will not forget in a hurry. If you are looking for a relaxing break it might not be the place for you, other places in Morocco are better suited to that. But, if you are willing to throw yourself into the action and embrace it, then you will have an awesome time. The locals are lovely, especially when you take the time to get to know them, the food is absolutely amazing, the Riad’s are a luxury that in the UK would cost you 5 times the price and for photographers, it is paradise. Just remember to be respectful of the culture, ask before shooting your image, and you’ll have a great time.