Marrakech. The City that Hates Photographers!
You may think that this is a bold, brash statement but essentially, it’s true. As an award-winning Travel Photographer, with an extensive collection of air miles, I’ve never really experienced a location quite like Marrakesh.
Marrakech is indeed a city that hates photographers. On October 3rd, 2014, Blanc Creative’s Director of Photography, Lee Blanchflower & Videographer, Phil Shaw, left Gatwick Airport for five days of Travel Photography & Street photography in the Red City. Along the way, they would create an invaluable guide to the pitfalls, scams and real side of working in the field in a bustling city where the camera carries a massive amount of prejudice for anybody carrying one. For whatever reason, Marrakech residents hate being photographed to the extent where they not only make this clear in person but literally let out a rallying cry to the whole street the moment they see a lens being raised. There is, of course, an exception to this rule. It takes the form of the universal fingering rubbing symbol for ‘we want cash’ as locals of all ages from toddler to pensioner gesture for money in return for a few seconds of standing still. Even the sheep and horses don’t come free… Local spotters on virtually every street attempt to aggressively intimidate the unseasoned photographers into parting with unreasonable amounts of cash.
The whole Marrakech v Travel Photography problems are nothing new. A number of renowned Magnum Photographers Power and Goldberg were commissioned by the unopened Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Art (MMPVA). The Museum which will eventually house one of the largest photography and digital visual media spaces in the world was inspired by Magnum’s recent Postcards fromAmerica collection, whereby some of the worlds most infamous agency’s photographers collaborated to post imagery online as they shot them as part of an experimental project. The Marrakech project was plagued with problems for the five photographers, who all resided in the very heart of Marrakech in neighbouring Riads. Two of the photographers working on the project experienced significant problems despite their considerable experience. In light of this and many more similar stories, just how did the Blanc Creative team Lee Blanchflower & Phil Shaw manage in the same environment, without the aid of any local fixers and on the busiest week of the Marrakech year as the city prepared to celebrate Eid al-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice).