Do you like photography? Morocco is a photographer’s paradise! There are so many fantastic photo opportunities, from interesting people and beautiful landscapes to stunning Islamic architecture! But before you travel to Morocco, you’ll want to be aware of some local restrictions and photography etiquette in Morocco. Morocco Local Insider shares our Do’s & Don’ts – Your Guide to Photography in Morocco!
1. Drones are not allowed in Morocco.
Drones have become quite popular in recent years, and with small sizes and great resolution, drone photography and videography can offer some unique perspective to a traveler’s experience. However, the importation of drones into Morocco and drone photography for hobbyists in Morocco is currently banned, so it’s best to leave your drone at home!
If you DO bring your drone into Morocco, for example, maybe you’re travelling before or after your Moroccan travels to a country which does allow them, make sure to declare your drone at Moroccan customs. You should then receive a receipt so you can pick it up at your departing flight out of Morocco. If you don’t declare your drone at Moroccans customs and attempt to smuggle it in, be aware that all luggage is scanned before exiting any airport in Morocco, and if caught, you risk seizure of your drone!
If you’re interested in bringing a drone into Morocco for professional photography, you will be required to apply for a permit and follow all rules regarding drone photography in Morocco.
2. Commercial photography in Morocco requires prior authorization.
Commercial photography in Morocco requires a permit from the Moroccan government. It may or may not allow drones as part of this permit.
Think you might get by without obtaining a commercial photography permit in Morocco? Traveling with professional photography equipment in Morocco, such as large lenses and tripods, will attract attention, and it’s possible that you will be asked by local authorities to provide such a permit.
However, if you’re traveling through Morocco and are performing (non-drone) photography in Morocco as a hobby only, no permit is required.
3. Avoid taking pictures of military, police and other government facilities in Morocco.
While traveling, you’ll want to avoid any photography in Morocco which features the military, the police and any government buildings. The only exception may be guards in front of certain sites, such as the historical landmark of Mausoleum Mohammed V in Rabat or the Royal Palace in Rabat. If you are found taking pictures of such subjects in Morocco, you may be asked to delete the photos on the spot.
4. Street and portrait photography in Morocco requires a tactful approach.
There is some local cultural sensitivity in regards to photography in Morocco. Morocco, like many Muslim countries, tends to keep family life private. Part of this is cultural, and part of this has a basis in Islam with the idea of the “evil eye”, where harm could come to someone as the object of jealousy. Many people, especially women, are reluctant to have their picture taken. It’s always recommended to ask for permission first.
If you have personally met a family, for example, maybe you were invited for a meal at a local Moroccan’s house, it would be even more appreciated and respectful to make sure it’s also OK to post on social media, should that be your intention. This is why you may find the faces of women and children covered with “stickers” or emojis on Moroccan’s social media.
If you do take pictures of local Moroccans, please don’t take “suggestive” or “sensitive” photos. Surely you’re just trying to capture a great shot, but this could mean a picture of someone praying, or taking pictures of people from the back, where the primary focus may be their backsides or for example, of a woman bending over.
In areas where the walls and alleys may be the main subject of your street photography, such as the blue-hued medina of Chefchaouen, remember that your beautiful background is likely someone’s house and neighborhood. Please be respectful of noise and commotion, or what might appear in a window!
5. To capture certain photo opportunities while traveling in Morocco, you may be asked for a “donation”.
We did say that there are great opportunities for photography in Morocco! Some great pictures are taken with a stroke (or shutter click!) of good luck, but other photos may need to be coaxed with a little more help.
But, for some of these situations, you may encounter some people who will expect and/or ask for a “donation” for you to pose in a certain spot for your own photo or for you to take their picture. This is common in the medinas and especially in Chefchaouen. This could include individuals hard at work within the medina such as the talented women making b’stilla “leaves”, dance troupes and snake charmers at Jemaa El Fna square in Marrakech, or impromptu camel rides on the beach at Essaouira.
This may make some people feel uncomfortable, wondering why they should have to pay for a photo opportunity which is right before their eyes, but think of it this way: If that particular subject was not there, then the photo opportunity itself wouldn’t be either! For some locals, paid photo opportunities is how they make a living, and they’ve invested in whatever it takes to make it happen.
Morocco Local Insider – Your Destination Guide for Travel to Morocco!
Has Morocco Local Insider’s Essential Guide for Photography in Morocco piqued your interest in traveling to Morocco to take and make your own Instagram-worthy content?
Contact Mint Tea Tours today to book your very own private tour of Morocco. Their English-speaking drivers and guides can point out where to take some great photos, whether it’s a guided city visit or a tour throughout Morocco!