We got into Marrakesh late in the afternoon. While searching for our riad* through the labyrinth of alleyways, I did not forget to make mental notes of the vendors, sitting at the bottom of the walls in dim light, each with their goods for sale on the ground in front of them. In my highly-trained American eyes (I suppose there is such thing), that is a life-style that's miles different from ours and it is "so cool".
Well, what appears cool in spirit met its reality the next morning in the souk**. Immediately after I framed an image of a person quietly making handicrafts, the guy sitting across the narrow street "reported" it to him and I got an unpleasant face and a few words. Yes, amidst the excitement of being in a country of far-flung culture, language and religion, I completely forgot what I read before the trip, that Moroccan people do not like being photographed. But honestly speaking, I did not envision this and the escalated reactions we met later in the trip.
“There’s no way I can take a camera and just do street photography in Morocco. People will get aggressive.” Reading the words of the late French-Moroccan photographer Leila Alaoui after the trip only confirms the challenges we ran into and did nothing in comforting the mixed emotions at the time.
But, I was once described as a daisy that keeps being run over by trucks and yet keeps popping back up (Thank you, Cara!). Although I consider myself prettier than a daisy, if I ever am a flower, the tough little daisy continued showing her resilience as the trip unfolded. Before the end of trip, I managed to have people framed in this way. :p
Magnum photographer Jim Goldberg was once commission, along with four others from the renowned agency, to report live from the ground in Marrakesh. After meeting resistance from people being photographed, in desperation, he started shooting a few frames of a horse that happened to be passing. Suddenly a guy appeared and said: "No! Stop! My horse does not want to be photographed."
Ummm, I hope the camel in my image does not mind being photographed...
*A riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. To learn more about a Moroccan riad, please read here.
** A souk is a traditional market Western Asian and North African cities. To learn more, please click this link.