A conversation with my dad sparked the idea for this post. He said it would be really nice if I could add some photography to my blog, especially for posts like the last one. You may have noticed that I don’t really post many pictures of Moroccans or my site, but I can promise you, there is a very specific reason for that. I realize that most of you will never have the chance to see Morocco, especially the small or rural towns. So perhaps I have some sort of duty to show you all what it’s like here (since I do have that privilege to experience being in this place) through my photographs. But I can’t.
In some ways, I really wish I could. I would love for all of you to get to see how freakin’ cute my host kids are. Or how completely full of men souq is. Or even my girls at the middle school “playing” basketball (a better description might be handball, but with a hoop). But I can’t. First of all, there are a number of Moroccans do not like having their picture taken at all. They feel that it disrespectful to depict people in photographs or paintings. This is rooted in Islam, so some people really do take it very seriously. And some people totally don’t. Most people in my site love when I take out my camera and will pose (albeit usually not smiling at all) and then want to see the picture afterwards. So I really do take lots of pictures of people, but most of them (especially my host dad) request that I not post them on the internet. And I really do feel that I should respect their wishes on this. I will print the pictures and give them to the people in the photographs, an event which is usually followed by us sitting down and looking at every photo they possess. And no matter how many times I've seen the pictures, I still smile and say how nice everyone looks.
Ok, so people don’t always like getting their picture taken or having it posted online. Couldn't I just do it anyway? Or take their pictures when they are not looking? When I started my Peace Corps service, I decided that I was absolutely not going to take pictures of Moroccans candidly or without their permission. There are many photographers who do not have a problem with this and I have seen many tourists taking pictures of people as though they are part of the scenery. And that’s exactly my problem with it. It would be pretty weird if someone just started taking pictures in the States of people out and about, in a park or at a farmer’s market. Sure, it happens, but it’s not really even the same thing. Because here, they tourists come in with their money and their private drivers and act like they own the place. That the Moroccans are just there for them to get their shot of “the locals” or of “poor villagers.” I can’t do that to people here (or anywhere frankly) because I know and recognize them as individuals. I know their families. And they are so much more to me than a postcard shot. So, I am sorry that I can’t share more of the photographs that I do have. The ones with laughing kids or un-smiling adults. But they just don’t want me to. However, feel free to visit us here anytime, we’ll provide you something much better than any “great” photograph ever could.
Before I leave here, I have decided that I will take more pictures. Especially of the people I see often, like the shop owners or the girl at the post office. And when I get back to the States, I’d love to share these with you so that you too can see what life is like here and the people that have made my experience such a wonderful one. They deserve that much and I think you’ll enjoy them too.