As mentioned in an earlier post, I am back from quite the trip to Morocco. I won’t repeat what I wrote earlier but in a nutshell, I went there at the behest of an artists residency program and things went sideways real quick. The powers that be decided to revoke my carefully obtained permission at the last minute and prevent me from shooting anything under the threat of arrest and deportation.
Saying this was a disappointment would be a gross understatement. Being forced to sit on the sidelines with a full complement of gear and film for days was horrible. This is where the pain aspect comes in. Much as Im sure it would be excruciating for a junkie to be around a bunch of dope and not allowed any, the same went for me with all the amazing visuals happening constantly around me. One day, I will go back. Have to go back.
I mentioned having a load of film as well and you might think film? Weird. I chose to shoot 4×5 on this project and Im not going into the reasons but it has nothing to do with shooting polaroid and ‘happy accidents’ and more with slowing myself down and shooting style. This is where the penance comes in. For some reason, I think that its a great idea to take 40 kilos of gear and 500 sheets of film with me overseas, through multiple flights, on the backs of donkeys and ultimately, on my back. I don’t know if I am atoning for prior photography sins or perhaps even taking on the sins of many (namely, HDR) but much like the penitent man, my burden is mine to carry.
When things go sideways, pear shaped, upside down and totally fubar’ed, the easiest thing is to just walk away, lick your wounds and come back another day. Unfortunately, that really isnt an option. There might not be another day and as we all know, things only really ever happen once weather it be the subject matter or the quality of light or the camera in hand or hostile village councils or any other of the million reasons that might conspire to ruin a shoot. So, I had to do something. I couldn’t leave empty handed and although the images I came home with aren’t what I set out to make, I am still extremely pleased with them and honestly, have no qualms in the end the way things developed. Perseverance. Its as important a tool in the camera bag as the spare batteries or the camera itself.
Ok, less talk, more images but first a quick note as to what I did shoot. Since I was banned from shooting in the village where the pilgrimage was taking place, I stayed behind in the town of Moulay Idriss with my local assistant/translator and set out to make street portraits around town. I was received much more warmly than in the village down the way but still, I would say it was only 50/50 at best as to who would let me shoot their portrait. Regardless, got some nice work. After that was all said and done, I moved on to Fez where I was staying deep in the Medina or old city and through some acquaintances was able to have some amazing access to the local artisans. Fez is know for the high quality of goods that come out of there and people are still manufacturing things piece by piece the way its been done for hundreds and hundreds of years. Its what Brooklyn aspires to but thats another story for another day. Anyways, I was able to shoot the leather workers, the tanners, the jewelery makers, the cloth dyers, the metal-smiths, woodworkers and so on and so on. So, that being said, some images…
Rooftop from Moulay Idriss looking South
Local Berber man, Moulay Idriss
Mule Porter, Moulay Idriss Souk (market)
Metal-smith shop, Fez
Tannery Worker, Fez
Cloth Dyer, Fez
Tool Sharpener, Fez
There will be many more images on my site and perhaps a book coming out as well. Stay tuned…