Creating the Maroc shoot
(Soothing drum music)
So how did I proceed with the project when I first started shooting? Basically, we had two vans. That's not true, I had my own. I had a Toyota Land Cruiser and we then had a van with all the equipment in it. So what was I traveling with? Well, when I do a shooting like this, I'm usually traveling with about six, four foot by eight foot flats. That is what we call books, where one side is black and one side is white. So I travel with that. And that's very handy for using natural light reflectors or killing light. Sometimes you want to get rid of light. And I was traveling with portable strobes that I always travel with just in case you'd need them. And also, I was traveling with a small generator and a couple of one K lights that I was able to use with the generator. And I had two assistants. And I had a Moroccan driver and I did the driving of my car. So one of the assistants that I had kept really the diary, which is really important of where you were. So when ...
you take a picture of a tree, for me it was essential to, not just it's a tree. In the end, could've been in California or India. It was important for me to register where that tree was. So we kept a very strict Polaroid book of the names of people, the names of the mountains, the names of the desert, the titles of politicians. If I stopped and photographed a child on the side of a road, we had to name of the child written down there and that went alongside the Polaroid because just one thing regarding the mechanics of the job, at this time I'm shooting film, it's not digital. So you shoot a Polaroid, stick it in what we call the "Polaroid Book" and that was basically our daily diary of you know, what we were doing and what we'd done. So later, when we came to do the captions for the book, we had all of that information written down. I find a lot of the time, very interesting to have all of that. And of course, later when we translated into Arabic, then that was also very nice to have that as additional information in the project. So I think that modus operandi is really important that you get all of that together. And certainly my way of doing things. For some photographers, say well, "I couldn't be bothered with all of that." But then, really that's up to the individual. In these series of talks, I'm really letting you know the way I do things and how I've done things and how I was able to achieve what I achieve. (soothing music) As for the cameras, at that time I was working mainly with the Hasselblad, which I felt was, you know, a good enough quality for me to shoot with. But also, I was also traveling with a Canon. And a 35 millimeter. But a lot of times I would sit with a 35 millimeter camera on my knee as I was going along as the driver and I would pull over, shoot something, and then sometimes I would have one of the Moroccan people that work for me here take over the driving and I would shoot with the Canon. But a lot of the portraiture was done with the Hasselblad, which I like very much. I thought about four by five and eight by 10, which I've shot vast amounts with, especially four by five, which's really my favorite camera before digital. And I just felt that sometimes set up was going to be a little bit time consuming with a four by five or an eight by so I stuck with the Hasselblad mainly and a lot of my lighter work I was doing with a Canon. In the Hasselblad case, I was traveling with, I think I had three, four bodies altogether. And I was traveling with 50 millimeter, 60 millimeter, 80 millimeter, 100 millimeter, 120, 150, and a 250. And we actually had a 500 millimeter Hasselblad lens in the, kind of buried deep in the case. I think I used once or twice for landscape work in the sand dunes. But those are the lenses I travel with, which is kind of, I don't think it's a full kit but it's quite extensive. So the real shooting time on the Maroc project was probably about 24 days. But with travel it was about 39 days. However, to be absolutely honest about this project, I actually spent another six weeks solid on this project, in the darkroom, creating these images. Now this was really the last project that I did that was an analog, entirely an analog project in other words. Everything was created with silver prints, platinum prints, sienna type prints and also inks. Working directly on top of some of the images. So it was a real analog project and is a kind of funny thing that happened. We actually, the designer that I worked with on the book, he put the book together with a Xerox machine, if you remember those. And of course the Xerox, the pictures were just stuck on a Xerox, copied and you remember Xerox images, some black, some white and so on. Which I didn't realize that the publisher sent this Xerox book to the king. And the message I got back from the King, which I was horrified that he was sent the Xerox book, the message I got back from the king was that the book is wonderful, but he notices that there were some hairs and smudges on some of the pictures. Was that how it was going to be in the final book? So of course he's looking at all these Xeroxes thinking it's the final printer's proof. So there was a funny conclusion in that. But the nice thing was, the book was presented to the king and he absolutely loved this book. I mean, he was gigantically enthusiastic about the book. He said it was everything that he hoped it would be. So it was a successful project. It was successful for me because it was typical of me to do landscape, still life, portraits of famous people in Morocco, but also porters, you know, porters to kings you know. So it was a real mountains to sand dunes to the bark of a palm tree, you know. That was how I approached it. It was a true kaiya diary of that period I had in Morocco. And it really showed my love of the country and the people. (soothing drum music)