To me, travelling is ultimately one of the best things a person can possibly do in their life. Whilst residing on this beautiful earth, the world is very much there for us to explore and indulge. Every time I visit a new country, I feel even more cultured, woke, and enlightened by the presence of new energies. Experience has long been known for being life’s greatest teacher, with the world being a book, each town a sentence, every city a paragraph, and every country its own page. Photography has most certainly given me the freedom, passion, and desire to travel and explore. In truth, this hunger to capture the beauty of the earth and its inhabitants has become a mild addiction, and I have the camera to thank for that, with it having been a very important part of my life for many years now.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T3 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @18.80mm . F/5.0 . 1/160″ . ISO 800
كن التغير الذي تريد أن تراه في العالم
This new series of photographs I’m presenting was captured during my recent trip to Morocco, a mountainous country thriving with culture, religion, and deep history in western North Africa. Although the trip only lasted 4 days, I was able to visit Tangier, Tetouan, and The Blue City – Chefchaouen. All were captivating in their own way, with such warm and welcoming people, beautiful architecture and magical scenery, and – perfect for photographic documentary – wonderful light and the most vibrant colours.
Despite the intense amount of back and forth travelling undertaken in such a short space of time, the trip itself was very agreeable. For me, the main objective was to see the old (lesser known) parts of Morocco, which I would consider the ‘real’ Morocco, as opposed to the newer parts which have been tainted by modernisation, commercialism, and gentrification. Something that, unfortunately, you can see almost anywhere in the world. For the style of photography, and indeed the experiences when travelling, that I prefer, I make a conscious effort to be as far away from those zones as possible.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T3 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @18mm . F/4.0 . 1/200″ . ISO 1000
Being in Morocco gave me the funny sensation that I was further away from home than I actually was; surrounded by new languages, cuisine, apparel, race, and totally different means of living. Despite the people being truly friendly and genuine, it was apparent that photography itself (and therefore my camera) wasn’t the most welcome. So, out of respect for the people, and my safety, the camera was in “ninja mode” most of the time, being the only way I could capture what I needed without causing a scene. There was no general hassle or stress (unless trying to photograph someone, which I learned early) in those particular locations that I’ve mentioned. However, I have heard stories that other areas – ‘the tourist spots’ – of Morocco are known to be a little tense, so I was delighted that my journey in no way reflected that. Before going to other countries, I try to do as much research as possible so I am never stepping into them blindly, giving the illusion that I have already ‘pre-visited’ the place that, in reality, I’m only about to enter for the first time.
RIGHT: Fuji X-T3 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @18mm . F/5.0 . 1/125″ . ISO 200
My research was very much focussed on that aforementioned ‘real’ Morocco – the mosques, medinas, beaches, towns and historical sites. The most enchanting place on the list was Chefchaouen, The Blue City, which I really would recommend you visit if the opportunity arises (with or without a camera)! A mini city painted entirely in blue, this was something I had similarly witnessed once before whilst in Jodhpur, India, I knew this would be a fun place. Sadly, I have no photographs of that portion of my Indian trip as I was shooting analog at the time, and due to a faulty shutter curtain in my old Canon AE-1 camera, 20+ rolls of film were tragically blank!
(Another solid reason to switch to digital).
RIGHT: Fuji X-T3 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @55mm . F/7.1 . 1/200″ . ISO 500
RIGHT: Fuji X-T3 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @18mm . F/6.4 . 1/400″ . ISO 640
I would undoubtedly like to return to Morocco one day in the future and see the other sides, as a place with so much to offer. However, for now the country is obviously going through an extremely difficult time. I would like to take the opportunity to send my thoughts and prayers to the people of Morocco in light of the earthquake in Marrakesh. A beautiful country with beautiful people.
Thank you for the experience.
امضِ قدمًا بثقة رغم الصعوبات
RIGHT: Fuji X-T3 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @18mm . F/6.4 . 1/400″ . ISO 320
RIGHT: Fuji X-T3 . Fuji XF18-55mmF2.8-4 @18mm . F/5.0 . 1/1000″ . ISO 400
Leon Antonio James is a British/Jamaican multi-genre photographer, currently based in Barcelona, Leon’s work mainly consists of street documentation, travel and portraits, his use of shapes and light adds a cinematic style that creates the art of storytelling within the captured frames.