Stop moving, dammit

One of my favourite things to say about my take on photography is that I shoot landscapes and architecture because, unlike people, they don’t move and don’t talk back :) .

Beside being mean spirited and aggravating, I am also quite shy, so talking people into letting me photograph them is a challenge that I seldom undertake. However, on my last trip to Morocco, I was very intent on stepping right out of my comfort zone and getting down to it.

Well, I did manage to take quite a fair number of images with people in them. But portraits? Not so many.

When David and I saw the juxtaposition of the blue wall and bright orange flames, we just couldn't help but ask this baker if we could photograph him.

In fact, the task turned out to be more arduous than I thought it would be. Surprisingly, my shyness didn’t get in the way, but other factors did. The main one, was sizeable. It turns out that Moroccans do not like their picture taken. Period. I am Moroccan, I hate to have my picture taken. Though I didn’t think it had anything to do with my Moroccanhood (:D). Now I do.

This man, in the dyers district of Fes, was one of the few who gladly accepted to let me photograph him

That said, a few people were more than willing to oblige. Speaking the language and being able to communicate, joke, talk to them, certainly helped. Children were definitely on board, and more often than not, asking me to take their picture.

Children were always willing partners!

For others, no amount of talking or flattering did the trick. As such most of my images with people in them were from a distance, using my long lens. I can’t help but think it’s a bit of a creepy practice…would I want random people taking my picture without me knowing about it, or without knowing what they intend to do about it? I don’t know, but it certainly begs the question.

In some cases, it was just a stolen moment…

…or two

In the end, my favorite way of including people in my pictures was to find a scene that I liked, set up my camera (or set up shop in a sense) and wait. Wait, and wait some more. Until the right person, the right figure, serendipitously walked into my frame. Granted, these were not portraits, but I think (some of them at least) allow the viewer to get a better sense of the place, its people and its way of life.

This is where luck and preparation work together for a good cause. I had settled in this spot because I liked the combination of colours and light. When I saw the man walking into the frame, I only had time to snap three shots to catch him. Luckily, one out of the three was what I was hoping for.

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4 Responses to Stop moving, dammit

  1. That last photo stopped me cold. The color composition – yowser. Superb planning and wonderful vision.

  2. Mark Tisdale says:

    I can definitely identify with the shy part and it does have an impact on warming to people in the scene! But people to me are still easier than birds. I have the utmost admiration for people with the patience to take their photos! LOL

    I have to agree with the above comment, the last photo is just eye-catching – wonderful shot!

  3. DaniGirl says:

    Oh wow, these are so amazing! I agree, it takes a huge amount of courage to photograph strangers — hell, even taking pictures of people I know is hard! I love the image of the boys, though, and the B&W is stunning.

  4. Amanda says:

    hey creeper! :) just kidding, I love the chefchaouen people series, and I totally relate to being nervous about taking strangers’ photos, even not-in-Morocco.
    I’m even shyer when I’m using film – shooting from the hip is even harder when you can’t review it right away and the shutter is louder. I chickened out of taking at least 5 awesome (okay, good. okay, alright) street shots this morning because I didn’t want to be yelled at. heh.
    BTW setting up a shot and waiting for someone good to walk into it is a time-honoured street photography trick :)