Last month, I took my holiday sort of ‘rest and recuperation’ leave after being deployed for 4 months for a humanitarian work in South Sudan. I was contemplating whether to have a relaxing beach holiday in Mombasa in Kenya, have a safari/beach holiday in Tanzania or get lost in the craziness of Marrakesh in Morocco. It was a tough decision but in the end I opted for the latter.
Why Marrakesh? Aside from it being in a different environment (though still part of Africa but more like being in an Arabic country than African), Marrakesh has always been a dream for most photography enthusiasts. The chaotic, noisy and colorful souks are just one of the many reasons why Marrakesh is the place to go for a photographic journey. Indeed, it was!
I found a hostel right in the old medina (old city) at the centre of the famous Place Djemaa el-Fna square. Prior to my arrival, I planned to take loads of photos of the souks (market), crafts, food stalls, snake charmers, crowded square, vendors and local people…the way I expected to see at Marrakesh. Indeed, on my first day, I found the old medina the way I expected it to be except for one thing…the Medina arches, the Arabic horseshoe arch design used in doorways and windows.
Ive seen different types of arches in Europe but mostly in historical old big buildings. But I have never seen such kind of architectural design used in local households, street passageways, small businesses or shops and in market stalls. It was so distinct that it is easy enough to be noticed everywhere you go in Marrakesh. And so I made it a mission to take photos of different types of Arabic arches in and around the old medina.
Here are some of my collections:
Aside from the doorways and windows, Arabic arch is also used to design the exterior walls of a building or as part of the structure itself. I also found several unique and interesting wooden doors and windows which are either square or rectangular in shape and mostly painted with bright colors which are great subjects for photography too.
As I went around taking snapshots of these Arabic arched windows and doorways, I noticed that even the passageway separating streets have also an archway built at the entrance. Instead of taking a photo of the structure alone, I decided to add some elements on my composition.
First, I added the scenes from behind the archway to get a feeling of where it is located making the viewer to imagine what is going on beyond the image.
Second, I added the element of movement by capturing people walking through the arched passageway. People walking can make the viewer look at the direction of movement and into your main subject – the Archway. It also gives a sense of busyness of the street or passageway.
And lastly, adding images of the local people into your main subject gives a different context, making it more interesting than just the plain image of the arched doors or windows. In this case, the colorful traditional dresses of Moroccans and their soulful photogenic faces add dramatic and or entertaining story to the composition making it a picture perfect photo.
Here are some of my best shots and my favorites among hundreds of snapshots of Morocco’s Medina Arch.