It’s always good to plan in advance if photography is one of the main focuses of your travels. But it’s often difficult to hit the ground running (or, photographing, so to say) when you haven’t been inspired by your destination yet.
Use this guide as your pre-trip inspiration. You’ll know exactly what photos you want to take on your next trip to Morocco in no time.
While the specifics may vary slightly from city to city, Moroccan architecture as a whole evolved with many different influences. The impact of Islamic culture can be seen in the intricate tilework, fountains, and distinctive mosques. But it is the Moorish impact that led to the construction of many archways and gardens within Morocco’s cities. Pay attention to symmetry, leading lines, and unique shapes when observing the architecture, and use these elements in your photography. Capture both the details and the sweeping “big picture” of the buildings that are wholly Moroccan.
Moroccan Riads are easy to find and fun to photograph. These classic houses, complete with a central garden or courtyard, provide endless opportunities for photographers. Climb to an upper balcony and take photos of the vegetation, mosaics, tapestries, and even swimming pools you’ll see. Visit at various times of the day to catch different shades of light as the sun passes across the sky.
These Old City quarters can be found in most major North African countries. They aren’t that different from European Old Towns, except that medinas are typically walled and a bit like a maze once you get inside. Though they’re usually car-free, always be aware of your surroundings — you never can know when a motorcycle or donkey-pulled cart will roll by. Medinas are the city centers, and the history and culture found within their walls is photo-worthy in every city! Make sure to explore at all times of day — while morning might bring fewer tourists and better lighting, a medina can come to life at night as well.
The souks (markets) are fascinating spots in many of Morocco’s major cities, but they can be tricky photographic subjects. The light, for instance, can be difficult to work around. Try visiting in the morning or evening, when the sun will be softer and less harsh. Many of the shop owners in the souks will be fine with you photographing their wares — just be prepared to offer a few dirham in exchange. And always ask before you photograph people — many Moroccans don’t like to have their pictures taken, so it would be rude to do so without asking first. Photographing the souks could turn into a day-long excursion (especially in cities like Marrakech), so bring a water bottle, extra batteries, and be prepared to get lost.
Found in the souks (markets), these colorful piles of spices are a sight often associated with Morocco. Photograph these unique spice stands while exploring the souks, and don’t forget to acknowledge the shop owner! Be careful with lighting, too — depending on what time of day you visit and where the shop is located, elongated shadows might make your images a bit less appealing.
The leather tanneries of Fez have been in existence almost as long as the city itself, the most famous being the Chouara Tannery, which has been in operation for nearly 1,000 years. The tanneries tell a visually impactful story about this ancient technique: photograph from the window of a nearby building to capture the scale of the undertaking. Focus on capturing specific color patterns that will make your photo visually arresting.
Nestled in the Rif mountains of northwest Morocco is a legendary all-blue city and a paradise for eager photographers. Photograph the stunning hues of the walls, but don’t forget to snap the little details, too, like the rugs and other crafts hung outside by vendors. Train your camera up little streets to portray the narrowness of the alleyways, and get vertical shots up the stairs to show how the village is scaled upward.
Djemma el Fna
This famous square and marketplace in Marrakech’s old city is a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike. Visitors won’t want to miss photographing this dynamic social spot, either from afar or up close. Wait until night falls to capture the glow of the vendor’s stands. Experiment with slow shutter speeds to capture the ever-flowing movement of the shoppers, and get up close to photograph the wares. Be sure to ask permission first, though!
Morocco is full of color — in the architecture, landscapes, and city medinas. The colorful details in cities like Fez, Marrakesh, and Casablanca are a photographer’s dream. Turn your camera on these vibrant subjects, highlighting the contrast and similarities in shade and hue. Head to Chefchaouen if you love blue, Jardin Majorelle if you’d prefer a vibrant green space in the middle of the “Red City,” and Casablanca if you’re hoping for crisp white subject matter. Keep an observant eye out for color on every part of your trip.
Many of Morocco’s finest residents are of feline decent. While exploring the medinas and souks, it’s not uncommon to come across a few curious cats. To photograph these cute strays, let them interact with their environment, and capture the moments that stand out. A zoom lens is always a good idea, so as not to disturb them.
Riding camels in Morocco is an incredible experience, and photographing them is a treat. Photograph a caravan of them in silhouette for a simple, but impactful shot. If possible, aim your camera from above and catch their elongated shadows across the sand. Get up close and personal (if the camel permits you to!) and photograph the beautifully decorated saddles and harnesses, as well.
The Sahara offers numerous photo opportunities: the dunes, the vastness of the landscape, and the changing colors of the sand are all worth shooting. Photograph early in the day or right before sunset to capture the hazy, soft light. Set up a long exposure as the sun sets to capture the brilliantly starry sky, as well.
Old medinas and images of sprawling deserts may come to mind when you imagine Morocco, but the country is actually quite multi-faceted. Its landscapes range from mountains to valleys to desert to coastal crevices. Plan your itinerary so that you experience more than one of these Moroccan landscapes — you won’t regret it!
Header image by Lisa Weatherbee.