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Marvelous Marrakech Photos From MY two and a half days in morocco

I was almost there…

I've always dreamed of visiting Morocco, and even if I could only be there for a couple of days, at least I will have seen it, and if I love it, maybe one day I'll get the chance to go back. I was going to be in Lisbon for my annual Worldwide Photo Walk, and after learning that Morocco is just a short 1+ hour direct flight from there, I started planning.

My brother Jeff would be with me, and I talked a few of my buddies into coming along, so right after my photo walk ended in Lisbon, we raced off for our short TAP Portugal airlines flight to marvelous Marrakech.

I'll tell the rest of the story in the captions, and at the bottom of the post, I'll share some behind-the-scenes shots of me and the crew (dubbed "team epic").

Lamps upon lamps upon small Moroccan dishes — the same type we were severed our breakfast in each morning, fill Marrakech's market places (called Souks). It makes for colorful scenes in the main market, but soon you realize that the market is essentially 8 or 10 stores all selling similar types of goods, repeated over-and-over again in every direction.
The locals aren't too fond of having their photos taken, but sometimes with a smile first, I was able to get a local, like this gentlemen, to let me take one or two quickly.
I did some research online before the trip, and I found photos of La Mamounia — an amazing 5-star hotel in Marrakech with a section just off the lobby that has these beautiful black and white tile and marble patterns (no, we didn't get to stay there — we stayed in a much less luxurious, but still charming, very affordable Airbnb hotel). Our driver was able to talk the security guards up front into letting us come inside the hotel. Once inside, the hotel was filled with many Westerners, so we fit right in, and we acted like we were staying there. We headed straight for this walkway just off the main lobby, which extends across two glassy pools of water to the hotel's meeting room. I walk up; go to pull open the door, and it's locked. I was crushed! Luckily, my friend Michael (who definitely looks the part of rich hotel guest), asked one of the staff to unlock the door so "his friend" could take a shot, and son-of-a-gun, a few moments later I was getting my 14mm wide-angle shot (above).
Here's another view of that hallway with it's marble pools of still water. I only had just a few minutes to shoot, but I would have just a few minutes more. It was pretty amazing.
Some scenes from the Souk and some of the local touristy spots (of which there are many).
This shot would look a whole lot better if the pool weren't empty — but I'm still glad to have seen it. Getting this shot took a ton of patience and a little bit of Photoshop on top. It was packed with tourists non-stop, so I took a shot every few minutes for about 30-minutes until I had enough shots with people moving to different areas of the courtyard that I could mask them out to create this one tourist-free image. My camera was mounted on a Platypod camera support — it's not a tripod — it sits flat on the ground like a metal plate with a ball head screwed into it, so no one ever stopped us using the classic "No tripods allowed!" rule.
The paint on the walls everywhere is pretty faded, but if you keep an eye out in the markets themselves, you can find some colorful, interesting, fun things to shoot here and there.
The walls outside the main Mosque in the center of town. It's not a particular fascinating shot, but I loved the color contrast.
If you're thinking we paid some guys who give tourists camera rides to pose a few camels along the beach (for $6), man are you way off. ;-)
I shot way too many lamps, but I just love lighting and I'm a sucker for the beautiful lamps you see everywhere.
A took a few panos here and there — this is of a famous palace/mausoleum.
I was always on the lookout for anything colorful.
I walked past this simple hallway in one of the palaces, and the light coming in from above made me stop to get a quick shot.
Remember that courtyard with the empty pool I showed earlier? This guy was there with his friend. He's looking through a 2nd-story window opening at his friend who is across the courtyard taking a photo of him. The light on him is pretty awesome.
Our driver told us, "Don't eat at the little food stalls in the center of the Souk (seen below top); they're not safe to eat. Instead, eat at any of the restaurants along the outside of the market. My friend Dave Williams recognized a restaurant he had eaten at during his last trip to Marrakech, and this is the view from the 2nd story balcony where we eat, looking out at one small corner of the main market.
Nigh time at the Souks.
I figured in Morocco you'd see lots of people wearing a Fez. Nope. Virtually none — only employees standing outside a restaurant wear one to lure tourists. As this fez-wearing gentleman in the background escorted a couple to the hostess for seating, I grabbed a quick shot of this beautiful lamp (I know, another lamp) with our Fez guy out of focus in the background. The only other time we saw people wearing a fez was in (you guessed it) a restaurant. It was two guys playing musical instruments in the lobby and moving their heads so the tassels on top would spin, but the moment we raised our camera to take a shot, they stopped playing and spinning the tassels, and gave us that "don't take photos of us" look, so that was pretty much that. Maybe in the Moroccan town of "Fez", you would see a lot more Fezzes (if that's even a word).

Behind the Scenes Shots

Here's a few shots of "Team Epic" in Marrakech. In the top shot (below), from L to R that my brother Jeffrey, center Mike McCaskey, and R: the Intrepid Dave Williams. The behind-the-scenes shot of me taking that shot, is by our buddy Peter Treadway.

That's "Big Mike" (as we call him) bottom left taking a photo of the guard at the door of the fabulous La Mamounia hotel. The directly above that is the airport terminal (home of our super-delayed flight back to Lisbon). Bottom right corner, there's Peter "The P Man" Treadway. (no one knows what the P stands for).
If you're thinking, "Why are their goats in this tree?" well, that's exactly what we were thinking. Yes, we pulled off the road to take a shot, and yes the guy under the tree wanted money for each of us who took shots, at which time it struck us exactly why there are a bunch of goats standing on three limbs up in the tree.
I bet you never thought you'd see a behind-the-scenes shot of a guy taking a photo of goats in a tree (there's a sentence you don't get to type every day). As you can see, it's pretty glamorous work (and the photography part ain't too pretty either. Come on, that was gold baby, gold! Tell your friends - I'm here all week. Try the veal).

Below: That's our awesome Airbnb "Riad" (small hotel with courtyard)

It was an incredible bargain - it came with a very yummy continental breakfast served in the covered, air-conditioned courtyard each day, and we basically had the whole "hotel" (called a Riad when it has a courtyard like this) to ourselves. They even had decent wi-fi. We'd all sit in this courtyard at night; have some snacks and drinks, and process our images. It was just about perfect, and so incredibly inexpensive. It was NOT in an awesome neighborhood, but with 5-guys we felt OK walking back there at night. If it had been just the wifey and me, we would have been pretty uncomfortable walking through that area by our self (of course, if it were just the wifey and me, we'd be staying at the La Mamounia - that's how she rolls. Can I get a whoop whoop!).

Above Center - that's the boys on "Camel Beach" (it's not really called that, but what else are you going to call it?). Below that, a couple of finals and with the behind-the-scenes shots. On the left, that's my Playpod rig for shooting that courtyard with the empty pool. If you look closely, right in front of my camera is the water spigot that I assume fills the pool with water. I cloned it out in my photo because being that close to the 14mm lens; it looks more like something that rhymes with a "Leanus" (at least that's what everybody who saw it before I cloned it out, said). On the bottom right, you can see how many tourists were in that room. It took a LOOONNNNGGG time until I could get a semi-clean shot with just a few tourists in it. It took about eight shots taken over a 30 minute period of time to mask all the people out in Photoshop, but it beats the heck out of a photo with a room full of tourists.

Behind the scenes photo credits: Peter Treadway, Mike McCaskey, Dave Williams, and my iPhone.

Camera Info: My images (besides the behind-the-scenes stuff) were all taken with a Canon 5D Mark IV, with a 14mm super-wide angle, or a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8.

Thanks for letting me share my Marrakech trip with you. I would absolutely love to go back, but next time I'd want to visit Fez and the "Blue City" and I want to spend a night or two in the Sahara desert. Heck, while I'm that close to Portugal, I may as well head back to Lisbon, right? ;-)

Created By
Scott Kelby
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