Sometimes we had to sneak up on the locals

Some Moroccans are camera-shy. As far as I could tell, it wasn’t a religious thing, just a personal preference. Residents of smaller cities, who perhaps weren’t as accustomed to tourists, were especially cranky about having their pictures taken. We quickly learned to politely ask, and if turned away, to cope with the disappointment. We also learned some surreptitious shooting techniques, which resulted in interesting results.

Here are a few examples of my efforts to photograph people without them noticing me. Hint: a killer telephoto lens is extremely helpful!

Some parts of Morocco are still quite undeveloped, and old-fashioned, traditional methods of doing things prevail.

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You may notice an inordinate amount of litter in these photos. Unfortunately, that is the norm, not the exception. I witnessed many instances of people simply dropping trash as they walked along the streets. Plastic bags litter nearly every part of the country, and in areas where floodwaters had overrun riverbanks, the trees were festooned with this particularly indestructible form of garbage. I was sorely tempted to get out there and clean up.

These three young men were part of our Sahara Desert adventure. They are from the Tuareg people, and are distinguished by the generous proportions of their headwrap. This is a very practical turban, and is useful for keeping the blowing sand out of one’s ears, nose, and mouth.

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These little girls magically appeared from nowhere, and displayed their trinkets in the Sahara Desert.

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IMG_0748 Yes, he said he made them all himself.
IMG_0651 Selling the catch of the day on the sidewalks of the harbor in Essaouira.
IMG_0857 This woman is sorting and shelling argon nuts, which are then ground to extract the oil, which is used in cooking and cosmetics.


This man is playing a traditional Berber instrument, serenading us as we had lunch.

The dagger, we were told, was strictly for show and is not sharp.

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There’s just something funny about a guy in a traditional djellaba standing in the middle of the livestock market and checking his cell phone, isn’t there?


As I mentioned, I was using a superlong telephoto to photograph these folks doing laundry the old-fashioned way, but I was spotted.


IMG_2337 No, he’s not a genie, but he does work at a restaurant called Aladdin’s Magic Lamp.

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See these cool pointy shoes? I have an identical pair in bright yellow, handmade by a little old man in Fez.


This young couple was having their photo taken by an enterprising woman who loaned out these accessories for “dress up” pictures. We were across the river at a cafe, watching them pose and taking our own pics.


Believe it or not, these two red-roofed structures are the local laundromat. River water, ice cold, is diverted into large concrete troughs, and the women of the town (and the occasional single male) scrub the clothing, then spread it on bushes to dry in the sun.


In one of our more creative maneuvers, Craig posed for a photo while I widened the angle to include some interesting townfolk.


Firewood is a primary heat source, and people work hard to gather it.


Meet the Comb Maker. He is 85 years old, and the last practitioner of his craft. His street was once lined with craftsmen who make combs from cow horns, and is named after the work that went on there. A couple of years ago, the Comb Maker was interviewed by a New York Times reporter, who then published an article in the travel section of the paper. We had happened to save the article, and brought it with us for reference. When we stumbled across his shop one day, we intentionally returned with the paper another time and presented it to him. He was delighted, since he did not know the article and pictures had been published. When he retires, there will be no more comb makers in Fez, and the alley in which he works will be renamed.

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