Zenfolio | Haluk Safi | Street Photography in Marrakech with Nikon D800, Nikon 28mm AF D f/1.4 and Iphone 5

Street Photography in Marrakech with Nikon D800, Nikon 28mm AF D f/1.4 and Iphone 5

October 17, 2013  •  1 Comment

I always wanted to visit Morocco and take pictures of Marrakech and some of other cities since 2010. I found the opportunity to visit Marrakech in May 2013. You can see my Marrakech Street Photography Gallery at here

I am a fun of black and white film photography in fact. I use Leica M7, Nikon F100, Contax G2 cameras for my Ilford HP5 35mm film. But this time the subcject is old Medina, Marrakech. A region protects themselves from the unnecessary technologies. Protects their traditions from developing world. Therefore I need colour!  lots of colour! I bought a Nikon D800 camera for capturing all these beauties.  I bought a Nikon 28mm AF D f/1.4 lens a few mouths ago from Amazon. They will be be a good couple for old Medina, Marrakech. (At the end my idea has changed, they are really good couple but not for Marrakech. :-) )

Our travel started from Ankara with Turkish Airlines. Ankara-Istanbul; Istanbul-Casablanca. But our target was Marrakech. We went to train station and bought our tickets for Marrakech. Train travel from Casablanca to Marrakech lasted about 5 hours. (Do not forget to negotiate for taxi fees)

Marrakech city is divided into two distinct parts: the Medina, the historical city, and the new European modern district called Gueliz or Ville Nouvelle. The Medina is full of intertwining narrow passageways and local shops called Souks full of character; it also contains the large square Jeema el fna, where many hotels are located and tourists, locals and vendors congregate. In contrast, Gueliz plays host to modern restaurants, fast food chains and big brand stores.

Old Marrakech, the Medina, comes from the ancient world. You feel like you are in Hollywood film set. I think it is really difficult to tell the city in words, so prefer to look at the pictures.

I think Marrakech is one of the most difficult place for a street photographer. People do not like to be photographed. As a travel tourist if you do not photograph to people, nobody will warn you. Otherwise if you are a street photographer, you are really in trouble. :-)

We realized that there two types of people for street photographers at the end of first day. One type is that ask money to be photographed, the other type is shouting when they are photographed. Therefore during these 5 days trip in Marrakech, most of the photographs were taken from the hip, without looking from the viewfinder of my Nikon D800. 

These two guys were playing football at night 23:00. :-) Nikon D800 with Nikon 28mm f/1.4. Taking pictures of children always a fun and without any trouble.

Iphone Photography, Street PhotographyMarrakechIphone Street Photography in Marrakech

The above photograph is taken with Iphone 5. The lady was about 30m away when I first noticed her with traditional dresses. I hide my Iphone and turned back and look around opposite side of her not to understand that I will take this wonderful scene. When she approached enough, I turned and and click! :-) The guy at the left side, shoe repairer noticed that I would like to take picture, and hided himself. :-) The lady was not aware of I was taking her photo. Result; a candid photo which will take in my Marrakech candid Street Photo gallery.

Here below is another Iphone 5 photo with grandfather and his grandchild.

Grandfather and grand child, Phone 5Marrakech Grandfather and grand child

I noticed this scene before reaching to that position about 10m (30feet) away. I prepared my I phone than I click. Suddenly at my back I noticed that a guy was shouting to me and say something in French. The guy was around 30 years age. I asked if he knows English or not! Than he started to shouting in English. :-) “Why have you taken their photos, why you did not get a permission before taking. “OK, I think we are going speak at least with the same language." From now on I am sure that everything would be better.

I waited to finish his sentences. “First of all the bad opinions  should be out of the mouth before setting a piece.” We talked about 10 minutes. At the end of the this dialog I learned that Marrakech people do not like to be photographed. This is not due to religion; this is due to a tradition. At the end of the dialog I asked the guy, this place is very touristic place, do you think that if Casablanca movie wouldn't be taken, If everybody know Morocco so well in the world?

He thought and said "No", nobody would know so well. I said and show the photo "Look at this beauty, I took their photo for this beauty to show the world that Marrakech is full with such kind of beauties. I also told him candid photography logic and why we take pictures without getting a permission. At the and of the dialog he also realized that to get the importance of candid photography." He said to me "thanks for taking pictures". :-) I was lucky, since he was very clever to understand why we take natural pictures of old Medina Marrakech people. 

My friend (my buddy) was not so lucky when a police saw him during taking pictures of a lady from back of her. He forced my friend to delete all the pictures.:-) No change, he deleted. Do not look for democracy in developing countries. Cooperate with the policeman. Otherwise it may take a few months to come back to your country. :-)

From the Hip (Hip Photography)



Due to size of the Nikon D800, most of the time I prefer to take the pictures from my hip. Composition is really a problem without an experience. Therefore Marrakech is the right place for enhancing photos taken from hip. I took the below picture from my hip. Otherwise I was sure that the boy would change his position, or hide his face from the camera.


Therefore I tried to take my photos from my hip or with my Iphone. They do not like to be photographed, but when someone try to shoot with Iphone their reaction is less than a DSLR.

So I try also to shoot with my Iphone 5 as much as possible.

The above picture is taken with my iPhone which is a life saver for chrytical conditions.

Decisive Moment-Henri Cartier Bresson

The man was coming with his bicycle from the street, the lady was looking at left according to me. I realized that the man will appear to lady and when she notice him she would look at him. I waited around 10 seconds before shooting, than click! A candid coincedence photo from real life in Marrakech.


The first place that I read about decisive moment in the web site of Eric Kim. After reading about Henri Cartier Bresson decisive moment logic, I decided to apply in my photos. As time passes, I realised that it is one of the best method for taking pictures. Hunting with waiting or running for hunting :-)

I recommend Marrakech for the photographers which are advanced level or would like to become advanced level street photographers. 

Nikon D800, Panaromic viewNight View of Jeema el fna in MarrakechJeema el fna

Night view of Jeema el fna.


Haluk Safi





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