A Wedding Photographer in Marrakech
A few weeks ago, Rich and I boarded a plane with three friends and, after an interminably long delay courtesy of the French air traffic controller strike, landed on the rain-soaked tarmac in Marrakech. Rich and I have been wanting to go to Marrakech for several years, but never quite made it there while either of us were still living in the UK, so we were equally excited to be on the plane and heading for this north African city.
We booked a lovely little 3-room riad inside the medina and got a taxi straight there from the airport. A quick few minutes to drop bags and we were back out and ready for some food. Our late departure meant that we weren’t able to properly orient ourselves within the medina walls that evening, so we fell afoul to an outdated map and a local teenager who was determined to take us to the restaurant that we were looking for (despite us firmly telling him we weren’t looking for help); we ended up leaving him behind and settling for a mediocre meal at a place around the corner from our riad. Better luck in the morning.
We booked a driver, Yousef Scorpion (because he had a wicked sense of humour, I’m willing to forgive the ridiculous choice of nickname), to take us to the mountains the next morning, and the hilarity began. Yousef educated us on all sorts of details about Morocco. The most important one was the price of a tagine: you should be able to buy a clay pot to take home for around about 40-50 dirhams. Someone misheard and said, “Euros?” His reply: “No no no. For 50 euros, you should be able to lift the lid and find a wife inside who will cook the tagine for you!” And so, the legend of the “tagenie” was born.
The forecast during our time in the city wasn’t promising. Rain, rain, and more rain. As we headed out of the city, the skies were still clear and, unsure of where we were heading or it’s forecast that day, we wondered if we might escape the rain.
Us: So, is this place that we’re going high up in the mountains?
Yousef: Um, yes. “Imlil” is a Berber word. It…..uh….means….”white.”
*I look down at my flip flops*
Me: Uh oh.
Sure enough, by the time we were heading into the mountain, there was snow falling. My laughter could be heard at intervals from the back seat, as I realised how ridiculously unprepared I was when I packed for this little trip. Not one to shy away from weather, it wasn’t difficult for me to make the decision to suck it up and see what happened.
Yousef kindly drove us to a small cafe that had gorgeous (and snowy) panoramic views of the mountains in Imlil. It seemed such an unusual contrast to see the deep earthy hues of the buildings against the white snow. We went for a wander around town in our completely inappropriate footwear, and we laughed as people dodged the falling snow as it was squeegeed off of rooftops and onto unsuspecting passersby below. During our wander along the cobbled streets, I quickly jogged up some stairs in case that route was worth exploring, only to be faced on the way down with the very real prospect that I might end up sliding straight into the business end of a loitering mule. Never underestimate the usefulness of practical footwear.
We decided that our walk had shown us enough of the town for us to feel satisfied (we couldn’t do any more without better shoes), so we asked Yousef to take us somewhere he’d enjoy eating. A drive back down the mountains led us to a market strip with a number of small restaurants and stalls. A butcher was selling his meat next to a tagine restaurant, so we bought a mound of freshly ground beef, took it to the tagine restaurant, and a short while later we feasted on tagine, kofte, bessara (fava bean soup/dip), bread, Moroccan salad (diced tomato and onion), and happily sat dipping our meat in the cumin salt and sipping delicious mint tea. Yousef innocently showed off some impressive tea pouring skills for us. You have to pour the first glass twice – pouring it back into the pot after the first effort – from as high as possible without spilling, so that you both cool the tea and agitate the liquid, which helps to dissolve the sugar. Our feast was so enormous that Rich earned a reputation with Yousef as “the world’s best defenseman” (since they have to eat a lot and get really big to be efficient at their job).
Our day with Yousef was memorable for all the right reasons – lots of laughter, some new experiences, great food, and some really beautiful sightseeing. We bid him a fond farewell at the entrance to an alley leading towards the medina and new that we’d had an awesome day-long adventure with him.
We now had two days to explore, get lost, eat, shop, and see what treasures Marrakech held for us.
The food, as expected, was delicious. We ate lamb, including testicles, which were an unexpected inclusion in our pile of meat from the mechoui; I feasted on carraway cookies; we drank tea to keep us warm through the chilly evenings and rainy afternoon; we had skewers of meat, some identifiable, most cooked, others….not so much; we shopped for pastries and spices and nuts and dates. We all came back with leather bags.
I was completely captivated by the way that the alleyways inside the medina capture light in little unexpected pockets. We had a full afternoon of rain, but even with the inclement weather, there were still so many ways to find interesting light because of the way that any daylight filtered down in between buildings and through arches. I went for a walk on my own our last morning and was so excited when I came back – a) because I managed to actually get back to the riad (I have a notoriously poor sense of direction and the riad is an infamously easy place in which to get lost) and b) because of the sense of life I’d seen and felt inside the heart of the city. The whole time that we spent wandering through the city, I could help but be so excited about the idea of shooting a couple there. The thought of being challenged to capture both intimate moments and epic landscapes made my imagination spring to life with ideas.
Here are some of my favourite shots from the trip. If you’ve got a sense of adventure akin to my own (and possibly a better sense of direction), and want to talk about meeting up while I’m abroad on a trip so that we can do some portraits or a wedding, get in touch!
I’m Ang – a wedding photographer and owner of Moment.us Photography. I have a passion for adventure, a valid passport, dual citizenship that allows me to legally work in the EU, and I’m always thinking about where I’d like to go next. Check out www.momentusstudio.com for more stories of my travels and samples of my wedding work. If you’re planning a wedding, whether it’s at home or in a far-flung location, I’d love to hear from you!