Traveling to new and exotic places is one of the greatest pleasures life has to offer. Over the past few years I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Morocco a couple of times to explore the country’s ancient cities, vast countryside, and remote beaches. I’m sure traveling with a local tour guide is cool, but traveling with a close Moroccan friend (who also happens to be a photographer and surfer) is as good as it gets. Thanks to Younes I’ve learned so much about Moroccan geography, architecture, history and culture, that is was impossible not to fall in love with the places and people I’ve met during my adventures there. My words can only portray my experiences so well, so I asked Younes to share some of his photographs and insider knowledge of Morocco.
Nick Santora: What makes Morocco such a great place to be a photographer?
Younes Fizazi: Morocco is a place where a heavy past and an unknown future coexist, where tradition meets modernity. Its geographical location at the tip of Africa and only 10 km away from Europe makes it a very rich, colorful and diverse country, with a long history and lots of contrasts. A kind of boundary between the east and the west is where the mystery begins.
The light in Morocco is amazing too. Not only because it helps for beautiful photography but because the weather is great more often than not. The landscapes and architecture in the backcountry (ksours, mountains, desert, ocean) are all very unique.
What stories of Moroccan life and culture are you trying to capture and tell with your photographs?
I am more a spectator of things. I try to get people to see what I see during my trips; how beautiful and fragile nature is in Morocco. I try to show people and places from a different perspective, a different angle…to convey the message that beauty is everywhere, we just have to open our eyes and listen.
You’ve surfed in Morocco most of your life? Tell us about being a surfer there the connection between surfing and your photography…
I started photography because of surfing. I wanted to keep memories of all the beautiful, remote places I went to searching for waves. That’s how I started shooting. I love Gaia and wanted to show how beautiful she is to people.
You and I have traveled to some fairly remote places together over the years that I would have never visited coming from America on my own. What advice do you have for adventurous travelers who are planning to visit Morocco for the first time?
To discover deep Morocco (the part I prefer), prepare your trip. Search for beautiful villages in the back-country or in front of the ocean with a nice close B&B. Avoid the largest cities apart from the Imperial ones (Fez, Marrakech, Rabat). Rent a car and learn how to drive a shift stick. Take your time.
Over the years, many artists, musicians, writers and designers have lived and created in Morocco. What do you think makes it such an inspirational place for visitors?
Probably for the same reasons that make Morocco a great place for photography.