Assilah - LightPhonics Photography

Assilah

The first day we walked around the town it was night time, which makes it even more difficult for street photography as your shutter speed is low, meaning you have to stop and pause whilst you take a photo which can be quite obvious, and also auto focus is slow or unusable, meaning that if you want to be taking photos you effectively have to be standing still for a good 10 seconds if you want to get something out of a picture, which becomes difficult in a busy market, as well as hopelessly unsubtle.

My message is basically just that Street photography at night is extremely difficult, and as there isn’t much proper lighting in the streets at night you might not be able to get much of anything, so make the most of the day.

It is rewarding however, due to the bokeh you can occasionally get, but you have to expect most of your stuff not to be candid. I managed to get the odd picture of a stall owner, but most turned out either not in focus or blurred due to camera movement; you have to have a very different technique for nighttime, I tend to pull away after I’ve pressed the shutter during the daytime, to remain unseen, but if you do this during the night you’ll end up with messes. You’ve got to kind of wait around in a spot where you think an interesting scene could unfold, and be much slower about how you go about everything. I would advise a 35mm 1.8 only, as otherwise you will have to up the shutter speed.

I found that by lingering by a shop or a stall, you could pretend to be interested, giving you an excuse to wait for a scene to unfold, and then when you wanted to shoot I would point it at the stall for a second or two to convince the person that was what I was taking a picture of, and then do the ‘twenty degree shift’.

The next day we decided to stay in Assilah as it was very windy – the sand blowing off the beach caused a sandstorm, coating our boat in sand, and blasting us when we walked ashore. I spent a lot of my time in the Medinas, as there were enough people bustling around to not be noticed, and there was also always a lot happening. This picture is of the entrance to the medina. All the places we went in Morocco had a grand entrance into the medina, so I thought this was pretty representative of Morocco. I also liked the light spilling through the entrance, which is framed by little stalls, and then the contrast of the covered up mother with her comparatively under dressed daughter. This is also quite a common sight in Morocco, as the younger generations start to question and rebel against their religion, they try to mix in aspects of modern cultures, for example skinny jeans with hijabs, and modern print abayas.

What I found interesting about this scene was that if you focus solely on the left side, you would probably assume it was somewhere in America, and it’s only the people on the right that locate it. In addition to this, the light coming in through the large medina entrance gave nice light and shadows. The stall owner also looks anxious to get trade, with his fidgeting hands and pleading gaze.


This is more of a streetscape then anything else; I loved the arches with the market behind, and then the  woman posing inside was just the focal point it needed. I’m kicking myself for leaving a bit too much empty space on the right, but I think it works fine as is.

You can see this stall in the background of the picture above; as I stepped through the arches, I saw this man with his head down, stitching clothes, which was perfect as it meant I could get right up to him without him noticing me. I figured I probably had about two seconds once close to him to capture something before he looked up, so I had to compose quickly – spotting the shoes and reels behind him I made sure these weren’t cut off, and I also wanted to get low enough to get the reflections on his smooth work bench.

Just past the stall above was this very typical scene, huge assortments of everything jumbled together in boxes on the street. The framing isn’t very good here, I’ve missed part of the woman on the left, and hidden bits of two others behind a blanket. I was just slightly weary I had this woman staring at me, and didn’t want to have to step back and reframe.

This is one of my personal favourites from the trip; although it doesn’t look like a candid, this guy just happened to look up as I took the picture, creating what I think is quite a powerful travel shot. The smoke, the colours, the grime and the traditional tagine pots behind capture the essence of Moroccan life.

These two boys ran up to me and asked me if I could take their photo. Obviously I happily obliged and showed it to them on the screen after!

Thanks for reading,

Jamie

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