B&WEuropeStoryMarrakech, the challenge Ignacio Santana

Marrakech, the challenge Marrakech, the magical red city of Morocco, is undoubtedly the most complicated place to take portraits I have ever known. But, instead of giving up, I decided to take it as an exciting photographic challenge.
17695 min

Marrakech, the challenge Marrakech, the magical red city of Morocco, is undoubtedly the most complicated place to take portraits I have ever known. But, instead of giving up, I decided to take it as an exciting photographic challenge.

It is a fantastic city which has enchanted me because it is full of life, colours, smells and flavours. Here you can find many attractive possibilities to take good pictures although Marrakech is hostile when we focus our camera towards one of its inhabitants. Previously to go there, I asked about it to some friends of mine, also photographers, who told me that it had been practically impossible for them to take portraits. In addition to this, I consulted publications of photographers as well known as Steve McCurry. Maybe I am wrong, but I had the feeling that they had not been able to take many photographs of people in Marrakech either. Of course, I was looking forward to travelling to Marrakech and facing this challenge. I have taken many photographs, especially portraits, in many places around the world. However, the first time I visited Marrakech I immediately knew that it would not be easy to take good pictures of people. In fact, as soon as I arrived, I left the wonderful riad where I was staying inside the Medina, and while walking through the narrow streets I tried to take a picture of a man who was dragging a barrow but he covered his face and shouted at me in a bad mood. I kept trying to take pictures in the famous Jemaa El Fna square and also inside the souk. But although I asked permission, used good manners and smiled, nobody allowed me to take pictures.

So I thought I should change my technique and use some tricks if I wanted to get some portraits. I don’t like to take stolen photos, at least if I can, and I only do it when I don’t want to alter the scene or miss the right moment. But in this case, I had no other options. Therefore, I went back to the riad and changed my clothes for a more discreet one, I made certain settings to my camera assuming that I would probably not be able to obtain high-quality photos, and thought about how taking advantage of every single chance. As I have always said to myself, “a bad photo is better than no photo.” I returned to the street determined to use everything I knew about street photography. Fortunately, this time I got enough photographs of people without them noticing that I was photographing them. The day before returning home I met a young salesman and asked him why they did not want to be photographed. He replied that they were fed up with tourists who only treated them like objects, without asking permission to take photos and giving nothing in return. Already back home I did not stop thinking about what he said. This was why I made a decision: I needed to go back to Marrakech. I organized the second of the four trips I have made to Morocco. But this time I printed several copies of the photographs I took on my first trip and took them with me to Marrakech. I looked for the people I photographed, it was very hard, but I found almost everyone and gave them their printed photos. As an example, I remember the man selling candy in the souk, who kept watching me angry while I tried to take a picture of him. In the end, I got his picture by putting my wife in front pretending to take the picture of her, but really focusing my camera on him.

When I returned and went to his tiny shop, he looked at me seriously because he reminded of me. I just told him: “I have a present for you,” and I gave him his picture. At that moment everything changed, he was very surprised, smiled and hugged me. Whenever I have returned to Marrakech I usually take with me some printed photos or show my photos published on the Internet to the people I want to photograph. I ask permission from them to post their photos and I thank them for their kindness. The result can be seen, above all, in the last ten photographs of this project that I have titled: Marrakech, the challenge. Wherever you are and whatever happens, remember that making a portrait is much more than a simply clicking

Legal Note: The photographer attest that have full authorization to give consent to the publication of these photos or project and have the authorization and permissions of third parties. Guarantees that you have all the necessary communications of property and you have obtained all the necessary authorizations for any property, buildings, architecture, structures or sculptures appearing in your photographs.


Get instant access to over 120 in-depth tutorials for all skill levels, the ability to stream anywhere from any mobile device, and access to our library.

Share your most best images in this photo contest in collaboration with ViewBug. A community that hosts over 40 photo contests and challenges.

With ON1 Photo RAW you get the professional photo editing tools every photographer needs to get professional results while keeping your workflow.


Landscape & nature photography is one of the most challenging genres and disciplines to learn, and the costs of getting it wrong can be disappointing



Julia Fullerton-Batten


stay in touch
Join our mailing list and we'll keep you up to date with all the latest stories, opportunities, calls and more.
We never share your data with 3rd parties. Your details will be held securely, we won't share them with anyone else and of course you may unsubscribe at any time. You can read our Privacy Policy here
We’d love to
Dodho Magazine accepts submissions from emerging and professional photographers from around the world.
Their projects can be published among the best photographers and be viewed by the best professionals in the industry and thousands of photography enthusiasts. Dodho magazine reserves the right to accept or reject any submitted project. Due to the large number of presentations received daily and the need to treat them with the greatest respect and the time necessary for a correct interpretation our average response time is around 5/10 business days in the case of being accepted.
- Between 10/30 images of your best images, in case your project contains a greater number of images which are part of the same indivisible body of work will also be accepted. You must send the images in jpg format to 1200px and 72dpi and quality 9. (No borders or watermarks)
- A short biography along with your photograph. (It must be written in the third person)
- Title and full text of the project with a minimum length of 300 words. (Texts with lesser number of words will not be accepted)
This is the information you need to start preparing your project for its presentation
To send it, you must compress the folder in .ZIP format and use our Wetransfer channel specially dedicated to the reception of works. Links or projects in PDF format will not be accepted. All presentations are carefully reviewed based on their content and final quality of the project or portfolio. If your work is selected for publication in the online version, it will be communicated to you via email and subsequently it will be published.
Issue #14 | September 2020
Current Issue
Vicky Martin
Ryotaro Horiuchi
Susanne Mildeelberg
Diego Bardone
Nicky Hamilton
Alain Schroeder
Printed on 80# matte paper 22x28cm | 100 Pages
September 7 to October 31, 2020
Julia Fullerton-Batten