Categories: Personal, TravelTags:

From the moment I saw a photo of this blue-painted town—when or where that was I have not the faintest idea—Morocco was added to my travel list. Chefchaouen, a name I couldn’t pronounce properly until a few weeks before our flight, is precisely what I visualized: streets of blue, in varying shades and tones, with curves, corners, and doors in every nook and cranny. It’s always a little surreal to finally arrive at a destination you have visualized for so long, with the expectations crafted from nothing more than a handful of photographs found online.

We finally made it to Chefchaouen after ten dizzying days in other parts of Morocco, and this trip is one that will never be forgotten. Not because of the beautiful sights (which it has) or the local cuisine (of which I am not entirely fond of), but due of the whirlwind of events I made it through to get here. I made my way through delayed flights and lost luggage (eventually recovered several days later), to the struggle of group travel, and then finally ending the last week being hotel-bound for a string of days with some unknown variety of stomach virus. I’m ready to put this trip behind me and be home in my comfortable surroundings with the dogs cuddled up by my side.

Photographically this experience has been what I expected, for the most part. In spite of what I went through, and losing a full weekend of photographing due to a stomach bug, I know I’m coming home with some solid work. I booked this trip somewhat last-minute and chose to join a group, adding some extra days in Chefchaouen, in order to simplify the planning and logistics. I don’t regret that decision, but to be honest, group travel—with the exception of photography workshops—is not easy for photographers, and this was no exception. There are ways to make it work (and I’ll share more on that in a future post) but it’s definitely challenging.

For now, in the last few days we have left, I expect to wander, photograph, and hopefully fit in some work as well, counting the days until I depart. Patience is something I’ve become much more skilled at as the years add up, and after this trip I will have added yet another feather in my cap.

From the moment I saw a photo of this blue-painted town—when or where that was I have not the faintest idea—Morocco was added to my travel list. Chefchaouen, a name I couldn’t pronounce properly until a few weeks before our flight, is precisely what I visualized: streets of blue, in varying shades and tones, with curves, corners, and doors in every nook and cranny. It’s always a little surreal to finally arrive at a destination you have visualized for so long, with the expectations crafted from nothing more than a handful of photographs found online.

We finally made it to Chefchaouen after ten dizzying days in other parts of Morocco, and this trip is one that will never be forgotten. Not because of the beautiful sights (which it has) or the local cuisine (of which I am not entirely fond of), but due of the whirlwind of events I made it through to get here. I made my way through delayed flights and lost luggage (eventually recovered several days later), to the struggle of group travel, and then finally ending the last week being hotel-bound for a string of days with some unknown variety of stomach virus. I’m ready to put this trip behind me and be home in my comfortable surroundings with the dogs cuddled up by my side.

Photographically this experience has been what I expected, for the most part. In spite of what I went through, and losing a full weekend of photographing due to a stomach bug, I know I’m coming home with some solid work. I booked this trip somewhat last-minute and chose to join a group, adding some extra days in Chefchaouen, in order to simplify the planning and logistics. I don’t regret that decision, but to be honest, group travel—with the exception of photography workshops—is not easy for photographers, and this was no exception. There are ways to make it work (and I’ll share more on that in a future post) but it’s definitely challenging.

For now, in the last few days we have left, I expect to wander, photograph, and hopefully fit in some work as well, counting the days until I depart. Patience is something I’ve become much more skilled at as the years add up, and after this trip I will have added yet another feather in my cap.

Nicole S. Young is a photographer, published author, and educator specializing in Lightroom, Photoshop, and photography. She is best known for her books on food photography but is widely versed in various photographic genres, including landscape, nature, stock, travel, and lifestyle.

10 Comments

  1. Jack May 5, 2017 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    Good grab, the woman is great and the color is exceptional! The Blue almost is a surprise with respect to what I would have expected from the region.

    • Nicole S. Young May 6, 2017 at 2:38 pm - Reply

      It’s a unique village, for sure. The color really makes it photogenic, too!

  2. Robert carey May 5, 2017 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Hi, I heard from Brian that you both were headed off while he talked about travel photography at the CanAm. If you go again consider an agency “Key Travel”. I have used them for Morroco and Turkey. They arranged a guide and driver who simply took us where we wanted and stayed as long as we liked. Not as affordable as a group tour, but infinitely better. Under their sheparding we never got ill. These guides we able to ask us what our interest are and get us to places that are unique.

    Thank for the inspiration,
    Bob in Buffalo

    • caroline jackson May 5, 2017 at 6:00 pm - Reply

      Bob – is that Keytravel.com?

    • Nicole S. Young May 6, 2017 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      Brian and I have already decided that our future trips will be either on our own, or with a private guide. I would have gladly paid more for a more enriching experience. And I’ll be sure to look into that tour group you mentioned!

  3. treforward May 5, 2017 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    Nice shot Nicole. Sorry to hear that the Moroccan cuisine didn’t agree with you. I’ll be interested to read your thoughts on traveling with a group from a photographer’s perspective. I’ can’t say I’ve ever tried it, but I expect one of the downsides is visiting places at times of day that are less than optimum for photography.

    • Nicole S. Young May 6, 2017 at 2:46 pm - Reply

      To be fair, Moroccan food is good. However, eating the same food over and over for a few weeks got old very fast. And in some areas, and on our last week in the country, nearly every restaurant within walking distance had the exact same menu with the same dishes. We ended up finding a pizza place on the last few days of our trip, just to break up the monotony!

      And, I do have some thoughts on how to “survive” group travel for photographers. Maybe it will end up as a blog post in the near future. :)

  4. Marty Cohen May 5, 2017 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Thanks Nicole for sharing your experience in Morocco. I understand fully how challenging it can be for a photographer on a group tour of a foreign country. I, too, have faced that challenge in Morocco. But having followed your work for a number of years, I’m really looking forward to your future posts from Morocco.

  5. Marty Fisher May 6, 2017 at 4:04 am - Reply

    That sounds like a really beautiful place for photography. Sorry about you getting sick…hope your feeling better.

  6. kate brackett February 2, 2018 at 10:22 am - Reply

    What a surprise – we were in Chefchouen at the same time! I was also unfortunately there with a group, non-photographers, sadly.

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