Travellers Choice on Trip Advisor has voted Marrakech the top destination in the world to visit .
It is easy to see why, just 3 hours flight from the UK and you are transported to a city that for me, as a travel and garden photographer, has such a rich tapestry to photograph. No visit to Marrakech is complete without a visit to the main Jemaa el Fna square, a cocophony of noise from snake charmers to drummers with the smell of spices and food being cooked for locals and visitors from far and wide.
One of my favourite street food stalls in Jemaa el Fna is Chez Hassan, number 32. You can’t miss it, just look for the one creating the most steam and smoke as the best Merguez sausages in town sizzle on the griddle, be patient as it’s hard to get a seat as this is a firm favourite with the locals.
Of course there is much more to Marrakech than the main square. The nearby Koutoubia mosque dominates the skyline and is a favourite location of mine for photography.
The souks and narrow winding alleyways of the old Medina always come up with travel photography gems. Getting to find your way around can be very tricky, fortunately after photographing here over the years I know my way around the maze like labyrinthian narrow streets.
There are so many great backdrops for photographs in the old Medina. I am always on the lookout for a good background for a photograph. One of the skills of travel photography is to observe the movement of people in a particular location and see when the best light hits the scene. Once you have found a location with good light and movement of people, a trick I employ is to frame my scene with the camera on a tripod with a remote shutter release. When a person comes through the scene I’ve framed they don’t have the same reaction as if I had the camera up to my eye. I tend to even look away when they appear as if I’m not even taking a photograph, it’s a trick that works for me, resulting in natural looking images with people.
In the old Medina I love the crumbling coloured walls, there always seems to be a good prop set against them.
The Medina is home to many artisans located in their own areas. The tannery district is only for those that can bear the stench, but a fascinating place to photograph.
Other favourite areas are the wool dyers district.
and the metal work district.
If you are in this area be sure to check out the Museum of Photography to see some amazing photography from Morocco spanning a number of decades. The place also has a great rooftop café with views over the sprawling city and Atlas mountains.
A great escape from the hustle and bustle of the old Medina is to go and visit the iconic Jardin Majorelle, a feast for the lens with its cobalt blue walls, colourful containers and collections of cacti and bamboos. The garden was restored by Yves Saint Laurent and there is a memorial to him in the garden.
Spend some time here, there is plenty to photograph, you can also get one of the best Moroccan breakfasts in Marrakech in the courtyard garden.
Be sure to look out for those hidden corners too.
If you want to escape the city altogether the Atlas mountains are only a short distance away with its Berber villages and slower pace of life.
Back in Marrakech there are numerous souks to get lost in, my favourite is the spices souk.
It’s worth while weaving your way around the maze like souk to see what you stumble upon.
I love exploring the quieter areas off the beaten track, you just never know what you are going to encounter around each corner.
Other places of interest for photography are the various Palaces and the Ben Youssef Madrasa, a favourite place with my guests on the travel photography city break I run there each year.
An alluring appeal that keeps me coming back to Marrakech is the light and the African sunsets you get there. Perch yourself on one of the numerous cafes in the main square, get yourself a Moroccan mint tea and a tajine, watch the place come alive as the sun sets, and enjoy the feast for all the senses. Yes the billowing smoke you can see in the shot below is coming from Chez Hassan.
You can join me on a 5 day travel photography city break to Marrakech in September 2016, with an optional photography excursion up in to the Atlas mountains where we have a traditional Berber lunch on my Berber friend CoCo’s roof terrace.
Full details can be found on my travel photography holidays website: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com
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Keep in touch:
My travel photography holidays & UK photography workshops website: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com
My travel and garden photography website: www.stephenstuddphotography.com