Here in the West, we approach our daily lives with an urgency that can’t be overcome. It’s different in North Africa, and indeed across the Middle East. Time takes on a different meaning; Moroccan culture rests less emphasis upon the future and more on the moment. If you’re running late then late you’ll be – there’s no point getting stressed about it.
Even in Morocco’s capital, Rabat, this is the approach adopted. Far from the busy atmosphere of capital cities such as London, Paris, Berlin and Madrid, Rabat operates on a different level. The city’s civilization incorporates a European sophistication left behind by French imperialism, yet maintains the exotic, tantalising features of the rest of Morocco alongside.
Before I visited Rabat, everybody I spoke to told me it was a mundane city; an administrative capital not worth the trip on a whirlwind journey through Morocco’s cultural cities. Despite these warnings, I spent ten days there in May, and I came back incredibly glad that I did.
Riads are a popular form of accommodation in Morocco. Most of them have roof terraces which serve as perfect vantage points for shots of the city’s rooftops, such as the above. If you stay in a riad or have the chance to visit one, choose the sunniest time of day for a quick photo session. The nighttime views are excellent too, but the scenes in the dusk or darkness can be difficult to capture through a lense.
Moroccans have mastered the art of the welcome and celebratory drink in the form of mint tea – a national symbol that pays homage to the country’s oldest traditions. Served in a distinctive silver teapot full of sugar cubes and fresh mint leaves, it is poured into decorative little glasses and often served alongside some sweet pastry treats. Don’t be afraid to whip your camera out and take a photo of a moment like this – it’s the kind of image that’s lovely to look back on to remember a trip.
Having travelled in Morocco quite extensively, I’m still completely charmed by the extensive maze-like medinas found in all of the country’s notable cities. Rabat is no exception, and its market district is brimming with produce – everything from ridiculous touristy t-shirts, through to top quality cooking equipment and ingredients, through to leather, silver and other Moroccan specialties.
Spice stands are some of my very favourite things to snap, but I find it’s important to take a wide variety of different shots: up close, further away, the stand as a whole, just one of the huge spice pots, two of them, from above, from below, from the side…you’ll be surprised at the diversity of images you end up with. Here’s one from my snap-happy wanderings in Rabat’s medina.
When you’ve finished shopping and photographing the medina, dart off to a traditional Moroccan street restaurant. Here, you’ll quickly learn that Moroccan food lends itself well to being photographed. From a wide variety of tagines, to open ovens full of spit-roasted chickens, to cous cous and kebab dishes, it seems everything edible in Morocco is just crying out to have its picture taken. The colour and presentation of Moroccan dishes make it an easy task to get some awesome photographs, but always take three or four different shots, especially in low light, in case things look different (blurry, too much or not enough background, for example) when you see the photos up close on your computer screen.