The moment we booked our tickets to Marrakesh, I was hoping for many new photo opportunies. I wasn’t disappointed. A four-hour-long flight from Dublin last spring brought us into the middle of the exciting, exuberant, bustling and sizzling city, where tourists and Western influence mix with the Arabic culture.
My photography didn’t aspire to give justice to the richness of what you can experience in Morrocco or to bring postcard-like travel photographs. For once, it is difficult to be shooting at the chosen time of the day for the perfect light and have immaculate settings and composition when you have children to mind in the crowd, often tired, rarely patient. Secondly, it wasn’t my ambition to show Marrakesh on photos. This has been done before.
I had my own unique story to tell – that of our family being there. That was my approach. I got shots of the stunning Majorelle Gardens, the Islamic collage, Ben Youssef Madrasa and the ruins of Bahia palace but I made sure I also captured my children running or playing hide-and seek in the ruins’ maze. I photographed soukes (markets with hand-crafted goods) the way I saw them, not lingering too much, but remembered to include my husband carrying our daughter as this was how she chose to tour the city. When we hiked through the Atlas mountains, this was the view I had: the back of our mountain guide jumping on rocks with my daughter on his shoulders.
It might not seem like the most creative or artistic photography, it’s a very effortless way of shooting, pausing only for a moment to compose and think about what to include. Still, when I come home, and I see how truthful the photographs are to our vacation experience. Looking at them, I start remembering the smell of the spices on the market, the traffic noise made up of car horns, donkeys, scooters and people, the sound of Muezins from mosques, the tranquil feeling at the hotel’s pool.
My main advice for photographing in such busy locations would have to be: take a zoom lens and make sure it includes a wide angle. Take it all in. Pretty bokeh from your prime portrait lens will be helpful at home. When away in a nice location, you need to capture the whole scene, not just the face of your child. The zoom lens will help you include some details alongside wide shots. Usually, summer vacation and shooting outdoor means that there is plenty of light, so it’s much easier to close down the aperture – my favorite range would be f3.2-f4.5, as it shows enough background and still lets me isolate the subject from the background just enough to help tell the story. On a sunny day, expose for highlights and don’t be afraid of the strong shadows – they will remind you of the heat you will miss in the winter.
I am a hobbyist photographer and a teacher. I was born in Poland, but now live in Ireland with my husband and two children.
Guest post writing and images from photographer, Renata Plaice.
You can follow Renata at the following links: