Candid street photography in Morocco with Pentax K-5 and 21mm f/3.2   8 comments

Candid street photography in Morocco is exciting and challenging. In preparation for this trip, I decided to take my new Pentax K-5 with my favorite street photography lens – Pentax 21 mm f/3.2. I picked up a Pentax 70mm f/2.4  in the unlikely case I needed extra reach along with a Pentax K20D for backup. In fact, for most of my pictures I used a K-5 with 21mm, except for the few shots in a Fez tannery with a 70mm.

Morocco is a wonderful country. Unfortunately for photographers, the general attitude towards being photographed is very negative.Street performers and water sellers (nobody buys anything from them any more) are very happy to pose…for a fee. Since I’m only interested in candid photography, I used extreme discretion.

On narrow streets you are almost always close to your subject. Wide angle lenses are probably the only right tools for this situation.  All pictures that involve people are taken without using the viewfinder by shooting from the hip.  I kept the camera in my hand with a wrist strap for assurance.

Portrait oriented pictures are taken with my hand straight down at my right side.

To make the landscape oriented shots I had to raise my hand just below my chest.

Framing is not the only challenge. Bright sun, narrow streets, and covered souks make very high contrast scenes.

In retrospect, I think that my choice of a 21mm lens was ideal for my shooting style, even though I regretted not having a 14mm lens with me. The relatively quiet operation of a Pentax K-5 definitely helps, at least psychologically, for taking candid pictures in close range.

I will be back in Morocco, “Insha’Allah” (God willing).

For more pictures go to Morocco 2010

Related topics

What is “the candid photography of strangers”?

Why is the candid photography unique?

Pentax 14mm f/2.8 for Candid Street Photography

Rules and myths of candid photography: To ask permission or to invade privacy

8 responses to “Candid street photography in Morocco with Pentax K-5 and 21mm f/3.2

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  1. photo #3 did you meet her father?

    great picture, great eyes.

    but beware…


    another way to take pictures may be using the self timer (without the light!) when hanging the camera w/ a neck strap…


  2. I find that shooting from the hip doesn’t work for me. I prefer working with a camera that has a flip-out monitor, so that I don’t have to face the same direction as the camera lens in order to frame the image. Also, just setting up the camera on a tripod and triggering it with a remote as people walk by also works, even in the medinas (but you need to place it so people won’t trip over it). Just asking permission sometimes works–some yeas, some nays, some requests for money. See my gallery here >>> .

    • It is easy to see that our photography is very different. I think that style determines techniques. I hope that it is not otherwise.
      I really liked looking to your photos but I enjoy taking pictures my way. I hope you can say the same.

  3. candidstreetphot, the difference is called transgression, that’s what it’s called…


    • Did I overstep boundaries by invading privacy? If you read my blog you would know my opinion that I’ve expressed many times.
      Additional circumstance is that I knew about higher sensitivity against being photographed in Morocco. Thinking about it I decided to do everything that is possible not to hurt people feelings.
      Do you like result? Do you like to see these moments that I share?
      Do you think that these images have nothing to do with art and leave bad taste in your mouth?
      Tell me. May be I will consider to stop my candid photography.

  4. I didin’t make myself clear, I’m really sorry, probably a language barrier 😦 .
    I don’t consider them to be bad taste, by the contrary.

    Mike Levy’s photographs are great, no doubt. What I was saying was that yours add something to the equation, something I would call “gravitas”, away from a more common approach.

    And that’s why I like the result. A lot.


  5. An interesting set of images and thoughts about photography in this fascinating country. It would be a enourmous loss if candid photography was no longer possible. I had comments from some people when looking at my own images of Morrocco saying that maybe asking permission is the right way to go. I don’t agree but it is a fine line between candid and invasive. You can read further comments on the subject here plus a few of my images from the country

    • Thank you, Mark.
      I’ve read this tread and even posted my message while ago. I’ve seen your photos. I like them very much. They are very emotional.
      I agree with you in all your thoughts. I think that if somebody wants to take pictures like yours (or mine) he/she has to do it without thinking about any “fine line”. That is the question “to be or not to be”

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