Saturday, July 05, 2014

Fez Photography Workshop 2014

The Fes Photography workshop completed its second annual workshop at the start of this year’s Sacred Music Festival. Founded by photographers John Horniblow and David Bathgate its a concept that brings professional, semi professional and advanced amateurs to Morocco to advance their storytelling and photography skills through an active, experiential week immersed in Moroccan culture

Abdelali Elkassas lends a hand

The backdrop and the experience is Fez, often referred to as the symbolic heart of Morocco and it’s intellectual and spiritual centre. 

  "Fez is an exotic and beautiful city of stories, people and their culture. The medina, Fez el-Bali, represents the largest living medieval city of the Arab world making it the world’s largest pedestrian city. Narrow, winding alleys and covered bazaars, beautiful houses and palaces intricate and detailed in their design, all add to rich brilliant colors and tones. But its hubbub of the Fassi daily business and life, the characters of the city and their stories that make it an ideal and fascinating location to work in and photograph "~ David Bathgate
Fez has had a centuries long tradition of being inspirational home for writers , painters, artists and intellectuals and in more modern times added the inquisitiveness , craft and impression of the photographer’s eye. Known as the centre of Morocco’s traditional crafts and artisans there’s a new and apparent artistic culture being developed in the city along side those traditional arts.

 The Fassi pride of maintaining the very essence of the city’s traditions is very much alive inspiring activities such as the Sacred Music Festival, and for the first time this year its included a fringe arts festival for the first time. A small but growing number of foreigners and Fassi’s living or working in the medina, drawn to it by its cultural heritage, are building upon those traditions with new interpretations. As such Fez is building a momentum with arts driven workshops for writers and photographers , residencies for artists and designers and encouraging the passing on of these skills for Moroccan artists through cultural exchange.

Fez ceramics workshop

This year the Fez Photography workshop opened a scholarship for young Moroccan photographers living and working in Morocco, looking to further their storytelling, image composing skills and camera technique in a stimulating and expert environment.

Abdelali Elkassas, a 25 years old, graduate student of English studies from The University of Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah in Fez was selected from a small number of entrants for the Emerging Moroccan Photographer scholarship. As a Fez local Abdelali brought with him an intimate knowledge of the medina and unique perspective for the workshop. Abdelali is a passionate photographer and one of the first members of ALC ALIF Photography Club run by Omar Chennafi, one of Fez’s local photography talent and an official photographer for the Fez Sacred Music Festival. Abdelali focused on a conceptual photography project, the temporal and fluid movement of people through the time old and majestic spaces of the ancient city, a project he commenced and began to refine in the workshop and one which he will continue to produce over time.

Clive Evans shooting large format in tanneries

Other stories produced in the workshop included Street photography, portraiture and further works on the Fez tanners. One project of note was the documenting the city’s artisans and craftsmen and their workshops undertaken by photographer Clive Evans. Shooting seemingly improbable, ¨ only in Fez ¨ scenes on some of the world’s last stock of Polaroid Type 55. A large format black and white , peel-apart, Polaroid film that yields both a positive print and a negative image to reproduce photographic portraits reminiscent of early 20th century portraiture. The workshop also went looking for interesting editorial stories that are not only endemic to Fez but contributing to cultural maintenance through new interpretations of Fassi culture.

Aine Marsland - Jerome buying daily produce

Restaurant numero 7’s recent opening offered such an opportunity this year for the workshop to photograph world renowned chef, Jerome Waag, working as 7’s invited chef in residence. Capturing his daily routine buying and preparing fresh local produce, interpreting moroccan cuisine or the ¨beldi kitchen¨ through his own culinary philosophy developed at his home restaurant Chez Panisse. The workshop also traveled Middle Atlas town of Azrou and its weekly mountain souk to add a new perspective to the workshop experience and photography opportunities outside of the city.

Story: John Horniblow

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