My MOROcCO photography tips
Morocco is one of these countries that is very prejudicial towards photography. From one side it is amazingly photogenic, from another, because of the cultural aspect you might face some difficulties photographing there.
The first thing people told me was that they didn’t like photographing there, because people react aggressively to photography and you would either have to pay, or have the potential of getting yourself into a conflict.
Well guess what? I still went there, spend in the country about 3 months and lived to tell the story.
While the warnings have some truth, I have found a couple of ways to overcome them and still get out with amazing works.
Now I will share my Morocco photography tips and ideas with you.
tips for Photographing people in Morocco
Photograph un-intrusively. I have wrote an article about un-intrusive photography here , but let me guide you trough anyways.
- Don’t get too close – Make the person part of the scene. No one can come to you and say – Hey why are you photographing me? You are there,photographing the scene. The fact that the person jumped into your scene is not your fault. It works best with a wider lens. The person most likely will not even be aware that he is in the frame.
- Shoot from low angle – When people see you shooting from a very low angle they wouldn’t think that you want to include them in the frame.
- Use telephoto lens – Personally I prefer shooting with short focal lengths, but in Morocco it might be a good idea to distance yourself a bit with a telephoto lens.
- Photograph people who are engaged in some activity – Working and busy people have their minds occupied and couldn’t care less about photographers
- Genuinely connect – That is a photography rule that works in other places of the world as well. Just have the human connection first and only than engage in photography..
Photography gear for Morocco
In general, I’d recommend a zoom lens like 24-70mm for capturing shots in alleys and a range of wide to medium compositions. Additionally, a longer telephoto lens such as 70-200mm, coupled with a wide-aperture lens like f1.4 or similar for low light scenes, can be beneficial.
If you plan to go to desert and do some landscape photography tripod is recommended.
For many years, my personal full-frame camera kit included:
- 24-70mm f2.8 lens
- 50mm f 1.2 lens
- 135mm f2 lens
More recently, as I’ve leaned toward street photography, I use a crop body with the following lenses:
- 18mm f1.4
- 33mm f1.4
- 18-50mm f 2.8
- 90mm f 2
Personal Tip: I often choose a single lens and stick with it for the entire session. This approach helps me stay more focused and engaged in the present moment. I intentionally disregard other focal lengths and concentrate on what I can create rather than what I could potentially achieve.”
My list of Ideas for photography in morocco
Unrelated to which city are you in. I have found that the best places to photograph are the older areas of the cities (The so called Medina’s). And there are several reasons for that:
The photogenic textures
There is nothing else like the old walls and their texture to take me back to medieval times. The place is so authentic, I can’t think of another place like it. You don’t even need to chase people, you can can build all your photography in Morocco around that.
plenty of early morning ACTIVITIES
There is always a lot more activity in the old cities in the morning than in the normal residential area. Right just before sunrise you can start capturing people and movement. And people early morning less care about photographers, they have their own agenda and don’t really care about you.
photogenic narrow alleys in the medina
The narrow alleys in the old Moroccan cities provide great opportunities for a photographer. Because the walls are quite high, I would get into these at about 9am when the sun finds its way inside, and start looking for visuals.
Once I find one, I would stay there for few minutes and wait for a person to enter into my frame. It’s popular street photography terms it’s called fishing.
interesting lights in the old cities
The old cities are a treasure box of interesting light spots. I could spend hours looking for these.
The leather tanneries in Fes and Marrakech
These are the most touristic in both cities. While culturally interesting you might find yourself almost pressured to there by random local guys on the streets. My best photography tip for the tanneries would be to go as early as you can. That will help you to avoid the crowds and the sticky so called tour guides on the streets.
The food markets
Te food markets are always busy and culturally interesting , I’d recommend them in any photography trip to any country. Just go there and see how the locals live and shop.
The old shops
Especially the lights and rug shops.They are so vibrant and interesting that you just can’t pas by them. Another good thing is that owners usually have no problem if you photograph the shops (you are a potential buyer after all)
The doors in the old cities
This is a 100% Morocco photography tip. This place is full with beautiful carved doors and If you are a doors lover, you have the potential to come back home with 100’s of photographs of doors.
The walls in the old cities
I’m a big fan photographing the city walls in Morocco, their colors, textures and shapes are truly magnificent, and if you are lucky to find a cool shadow on them you can create truly special images.
Views from the roofs.
If you can get yourself up on the roof or high point in an old city, just do it. Moroccan cities are not less interesting to photograph from above than from bellow.
Might sound creepy, but hey… We are here to get tips where to photograph and this is another one of mine.
What are the most photogenic cities to photograph in Morocco?
I spent in Morocco 3 months and I can’t say that I haven’t covered even half of what I initially planed. The reason for that was, that Morocco is so interesting and photogenic that every place I went I just spent longer than I initially planed.
Marrakech – the pink city
You can’t skip that one! If I had to choose one city to photograph in Morocco it would be Marrakech.
You can easily spend a week there, getting lost in the small alleys or chasing light on the city wall. This city is amazing! It is real and extremely photogenic.
This is also one of the cities I do a 5 full days photography workshop in. Simply because it has the most to offer for a photographer.
Spend at least 2-3 days there, but if you can spend 5.
Fes – the cultural capital of Morocco.
Fes is one of Morocco’s oldest and most culturally rich cities, It offers photographers a wealth of fascinating subjects to capture. From the leather tanneries to the roofs with stunning views on the city. I would allocate at least 3 days to explore the city.
Rabat – the capital city of Morocco
For me Rabat was a surprise, I didn’t expect much from it from photography point of view, but was met with beautiful city walls and an interesting white and blue colored old city.
I visited during covid so attractions like Hassan Tower and The Mausoleum of Mohammed V were closed, but I know that they are very photogenic, so you should add these to your list of things to photograph.
If I was to go back, I would allocate at least 2 days there.
Essaouira is much smaller than I anticipated and yet packed with charm and photographic opportunities.
Spend at least one early morning and late afternoon at the port and rest of the times explore the small streets of the old city.
This is the place where I captured more than a 100 different doors, it is the doors heaven of Morocco.
Spend at least 2 days there.
Another small city that deserves at least one day stop, my photographic focus would be in the old city and beach side area.
A small town with beautiful old city, definetely worths a one day stop.
The desert – Merzouga
Morocco has magnificent dunes in Merzouga area , if it is in your way, don’t hesitate to spend a night there. Go out early morning and you will find a majestic play of light and shape on the sand. They photograph so well! Just be very careful with the sand, don’t change lenses on the open, because you can easily find your sensor covered with sand. I had to clean scrupulously all my photography gear after visiting there, sand managed to get it’s way trough to the most unimaginable places.
The blue city Chefchaoun
Although mostly overrun by group tourism it is still a beautiful and special destination to photograph in Morocco.
Good for 2-3 days of photography.
Tetouan – The white city
If you have some extra time, make your way up to the north and visit this magnificent place. All the old part of the city is snow white, which absolutely beautiful. And since there is almost no tourism there, you will find yourself having this photogenic city just for yourself.
I’d recommend taking at least 2 days to explore.
Aït Benhaddou – gladiator shooting place
The place is mostly famous by the scenes from Gladiator where Maximus has been sold to slavery.
I’d say that this is an “on the way destination”. You could stop by on the way somewhere, or stay for a nigh and go early morning to capture the golden light washing the palace.
There are many places that I haven’t included in this list. But it is not because they are not good or something, it simply because I haven’t spend there enough time to have a proper photographic opinion and tips about them.