Marrakech photography etiquette?

Smashatom

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I'm planning of heading to Marrakech for a long weekend for my birthday in 3 weeks time.

I've heard and read a bit about how the locals don't like their photos taken and can either refuse or demand money.

I was just wondering if anyone has been and how they found it?

I don't generally take pictures of people, I always feel slightly uncomfortable pointing my camera at strangers so try to avoid it where possible but I'm worried about locals getting the wrong idea and the safety of my kit!

Any experience?

Sam
 

MizOre

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Same happens in Guatemala according to what a friend read before going there. The reason was that the Mayans hated being the unpaid tourist attraction. She found that after she spoke Spanish better that buying cloth and hiring women as guides tended to make her less of an intrusion without profit in their lives. Islamic countries can theoretically make taking photographs making graven images. Ask at your hotel for where is safer and less safe. The other thing to do is learn the local Arabic for "con su permiso" or "okay?" with lifted camera.

Check Flickr for Marrakech and see if it looks like people duck out of the cameras' views.
 

DaveG

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Hiring a guide helps, they'll inform you when and when not to take photos. Most street vendors will demand money for a photo (after they encouraged you to take one, of course). I had no major issues there.

As with anywhere, if you are specifically focusing on someone, as first is always safer than trying to get a great candid.
 

Smashatom

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Here's an interesting article from a couple of months ago/
Thanks for that, very interesting. But does make me feel slightly more intimidated at the thought of walking around with a camera around my neck!

Hiring a guide help, they'll inform you when and when not to take photos. Most street vendors will demand money for a photo (after they encouraged you to take one, of course).
Thanks for the tip, a guide sounds quite appealing. I don't like the idea of that trick though, telling to you to take one and then charging you!
 

peterpix

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a good general anywhere in the third world: don't pay children, it teaches them to beg. I you have to give money, give it to their parents.
 

MizOre

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a good general anywhere in the third world: don't pay children, it teaches them to beg. I you have to give money, give it to their parents.
Yeah. Don't ever give money to child beggars, but here, it's the parents sending them out to beg in the bigger tourist areas (Nicaragua).

Sounds like the basic reasons for hostility are more the same as in Guatemala. It isn't fun being the poor colorful locals who are being photographed by people whose cameras cost more than their houses.

The other thing is never ask a child to take your camera and take a picture of you. The tourist in Jinotega did get his camera back because the kid was so frustrated by figuring out how to work the camera, he didn't see the police approaching.
 

nickthetasmaniac

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a good general anywhere in the third world: don't pay children, it teaches them to beg. I you have to give money, give it to their parents.
Don't pay beggers, period.

In the vast majority of third world countries (and in quite a few first and second world ones too) - especially in areas frequented by tourists - begging is professional and run by organised syndicates. The beggers themselves are often sourced through human trafficking (ie. modern slavery) and receive little if any of the money they collect.

If you want to do something to help the locals then do some research and find a well run NGO or charity - your money will go much further.

Giving money to beggers does no one any favours and supports an industry that is fundamentally about exploitation.
 

robbie36

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I have never been to Marrakech but I do most of my photography in second and third world countries. It is obviously a difficult problem. I like to give something back in some way and would like it to be vaguely productive. I often try and visit a local school and give some money to the head teacher - not as payment for taking shots at the school but as a way of giving back in general.

One other idea people might like to try. Take an instant Fuji camera with you and then offer to take photos and give them the photos. To me it seems a very friendly thing to do.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byOFtuJ3qag
 

Smashatom

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Hiring a guide helps, they'll inform you when and when not to take photos. Most street vendors will demand money for a photo (after they encouraged you to take one, of course). I had no major issues there.

As with anywhere, if you are specifically focusing on someone, as first is always safer than trying to get a great candid.
I forgot to ask the other day, did you walk around with your camera on show? Or did you keep it in a bag?
 

NettieNZ

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My experience of Marrakech is that there are two main places that people will try to get you to pay for photos. One is the performers and water sellers mainly around Djemma El Fna (the square) and out of town if you see goats in a tree - there will enviably be (normally kids) people wanting to be paid after you have taken the photo.

If you are male, take care photographing women (being female I didn't have this problem) - this is an Islamic society, although reasonably liberal compared with some other Arab countries.

A few words particularly in Arabic will go along way - French is better than English, but Arabic is far better - even if this is just please and thank you.

Enjoy! It's a fascinating country
 

Smashatom

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My experience of Marrakech is that there are two main places that people will try to get you to pay for photos. One is the performers and water sellers mainly around Djemma El Fna (the square) and out of town if you see goats in a tree - there will enviably be (normally kids) people wanting to be paid after you have taken the photo.

If you are male, take care photographing women (being female I didn't have this problem) - this is an Islamic society, although reasonably liberal compared with some other Arab countries.

A few words particularly in Arabic will go along way - French is better than English, but Arabic is far better - even if this is just please and thank you.

Enjoy! It's a fascinating country
Thank you for the advice, I'm going to have to do a bit of research then for some Arabic words.

Out of interest, did you keep your camera hidden until needed? Or did you walk with it on show?

I tend to walk with it around my neck or over a shoulder when exploring somewhere new, but I'm worried this will attract unwanted attention or make me a target!
 

NettieNZ

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The area around Djemma El Fna and the souks are full of tourists. If your camera is securely around your neck/ shoulder it's unlikely to be:
- unusual
- an easy target for pickpockets

However in the souk there can be a real crush of people at times - this is more likely to be a threat to your camera's well being.
Don't use a backpack - a messenger style bag that you can keep in front of you at all times is a far better option.

Being a heavily touristed area there is a reasonable police presence around as well.

Have fun! Remember that when you are bargaining you need to walk away twice before you will get a good price!
 

NettieNZ

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Actually was going to say - one of the reasons that I love my E-M5 is that it is small and at first impression doesn't look like a modern camera. Not compared to some one who is carrying around a Canon or Nikon DSLR with a big lens!
To me the E-M5 is the ultimate travel camera for places like Morocco :thumbup:
 

Smashatom

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The area around Djemma El Fna and the souks are full of tourists. If your camera is securely around your neck/ shoulder it's unlikely to be:
- unusual
- an easy target for pickpockets

However in the souk there can be a real crush of people at times - this is more likely to be a threat to your camera's well being.
Don't use a backpack - a messenger style bag that you can keep in front of you at all times is a far better option.

Being a heavily touristed area there is a reasonable police presence around as well.

Have fun! Remember that when you are bargaining you need to walk away twice before you will get a good price!
That's really useful, thanks a lot. I wasn't sure if locals would be angry with me carrying a camera! Unfortunately I only have a backpack, the lowepro fastpack 200, the zips to the important compartments are covered by a large flap with buckles, I think/hope it's a difficult bag to get into...

Thanks again!
 

Smashatom

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Just thought I would post a few of the pics from my trip...

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/smashatom/12887869775/" title="Night Market Jemaa El Fna by Smashatom, on Flickr">
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
"1024" height="683" alt="Night Market Jemaa El Fna"></a>

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/smashatom/12887866295/" title="Scooter Park by Smashatom, on Flickr">
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"1024" height="683" alt="Scooter Park"></a>

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/smashatom/12887966403/" title="Spice Sellers by Smashatom, on Flickr">
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
"1024" height="683" alt="Spice Sellers"></a>
 
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