A week or two after I first arrived in Morocco, a vivacious Texan girl arrived in Tamraght, bringing with her the Vanarey brothers.
Michael, the eldest Vanarey, is a self-taught photographer and with skills that far surpass mine has been reflecting the beauty of Morocco across social media.
So for the budding photographers out there I thought it would be nice to introduce you to Michael Vanarey’s Morocco…
Michael Vanarey’s Morocco
How did the photography journey begin for you?
I bought a DSLR before a Christmas holiday to Europe back in 2012 and my passion blossomed after I saw the quality and how creative you can be shooting with shallow focus.
The first time I used my camera outside a hobby was shooting model portfolios and local nightclub events in Brisbane, Australia.
Your website focuses on portrait photography but you also feature travel shots on your instagram. Do you have a preference for shooting people or places?
I have a preference for shooting people as seeing my subjects see their portraits and liking what they see drives me to take better shots. Getting to know their story and building rapport makes for an enjoyable experience.
Photographing places require a bit of pre-planing and waiting for the perfect sky, light and/or event to happen – so I’m a bit more social I suppose.
Why did you come to Morocco?
I’ve always been interested in Morocco since my mother visited the country back in the 1990’s. I think the country holds such a rich culture in its landscape and the Berber people.
I feel like if you turn a corner here you can be teleported back 100’s of years – whether it be donkey karts, hard-crushed Berber Amalou, or horse drawn taxis!
Can you explain what went on behind the scenes of some of your favourite shots from Morocco?
Most of my street photos are spontaneous after I spot a great subject in good light.
Kids playing on a sea boat at Imsouane
We visited Imsouane on a day trip from our base in Tamraght. Imsouane is known for its famous beach breaks and fishing culture. I walked up to these boys playing with fishing line, and they were happy and playful with the camera which made for a great shot.
The natural light is amazing and warm during this time as it bounces off the red and orange painted walls. I waited for the arched lane way to be empty and took this shot.
Dressing conservatively is respectful to the Moroccan culture. I’ve grown to love the fashion and natural beauty of the Moroccan woman. I took this photo in the alley ways of a Marrakesh Souk and love how the light fades across the face and highlights the scarf.
I’ve always been nervous of shooting strangers I meet on my travels – do you have any advice for reflecting the people of a country in a photograph?
I rely on my personality to introduce myself and photograph strangers. I always consider the photo, natural light and ensure I have all the camera settings correct before I approach my subject.
Being happy, respectful and upfront goes a long way even if you need to play a bit of charades to communicate that you want a portrait!
You’re a self-taught photographer. If you had had a teacher in photography, what’s the one thing you would have liked to have known from the start?
The best advice would be to chase better light and not better gear! We all have gear lust but it doesn’t necessarily make you a better photographer. Great shots come from a solid concept, consideration of composition and utilising the best light possible at the time.
What has been the most photogenic moment, monument, or place so far for you in Morocco?
There have been a few! Growing up on the east cost of Australia you get used to sunrises over sea so the Red sunsets over the sea in Morocco have been pretty special!
The lack of light pollution also makes the night sky clear and bright. We plan to be in Morocco for some time so I hope more special moments at yet to come!
What equipment do you carry, and have you felt safe carrying expensive equipment across the country?
A few common sense security measures goes along way here. I’ve never felt in danger walking around taking photos.
I carry around a Sony A7 mirrorless camera and a small 35mm lens so it’s design doesn’t scream “expensive camera!” to a would be thief. That being said, I always have one hand resting on the camera and lens when it’s not in use.
I’ve got to say a huge thank you to Michael Vanarey for not only sharing an insight into his Moroccan photography journey with this blog, but for all the tips and tricks he was kind enough to share in person!
To keep up to date with Michael’s photography you know what to do…
And to share his photography with your friends, pin the graphics below!
Lots of love,