My 50 years of capturing Morocco in photographs

Ouarzazate, 1986
Ouarzazate, 1986 (Image credit: © Harry Gruyaert / Magnum Photos)

It was love at first sight when photographer Harry Gruyaert first visited Morocco, and he has been trying to capture that initial impact ever since.

Morocco is the new book by Magnum photographer Harry Gruyaert, in which he captures the enchanting land of the country it's named after. Enamored by the splendid harmony between form and color, people and nature, he has been photographing there since the early 1970s. Morocco provides an outsider's view of the country and how it has developed and changed through the last 5 decades. 

• See our guide for the best camera for street photography 

High Atlas, 1998 (Image credit: © Harry Gruyaert / Magnum Photos)

Harry Gruyaert is a Belgian photographer best known for his images of India, Morocco, and Egypt as well as of the west of Ireland. He has been part of Magnum Photos since joining in 1982, and has published several books. In 1976 he won the Kodak Prize for his body of work created in Morocco, and the subsequent published book.

Now considered 'street photography', Gruyaert captured the hustle and bustle of Moroccan life, from the busy streets of Marrakech and Essaouira, to the Atlas Mountains and rural desert landscape. Light and shadow play a significant part in Gruyaert's aesthetic, enhancing the colors and adding a cinematic atmosphere to the scene. The color contained in this book is a character of its own, providing life to the 150 images. 

Chefchaouen, 1975 (Image credit: © Harry Gruyaert / Magnum Photos)

Meknès,1981 (Image credit: © Harry Gruyaert / Magnum Photos)

Marrakech, 2003 (Image credit: © Harry Gruyaert / Magnum Photos)

Gruyaert's camera of choice was, much like other great photographers of the time, a Leica M with a 50mm prime lens. Most likely to have used several of the series throughout his career, he created many works with the Leica M6 coupled with the unmistakable colors of Kodak Kodachrome film. Kodachrome is renowned for its saturated colors, and no doubt played a huge part in capturing the vibrant images in this book.  

Guided by 'his innate curiosity and desire to understand different realities,' he wanted to reflect the importance of family, community, and faith to the people of Morocco. Photographing as an outsider enables a new perspective on daily life. Something that may seem ordinary and every day to us may seem fascinating to others. This form of social anthropology is curated in this book and showcases a side of life in Morrocco over the last five decades. 

Morocco by Harry Gruyaert is published by Thames & Hudson and will be available on February 1, 2024, for the price of $65 / £50. More of Harry Gruyaert's work can also be seen in the new book Magnum Magnum, also published by Thames & Hudson, showcasing work from all Magnum photographers. 

Harry Gruyaert shot this project with a Leica film camera, if it has inspired you to find out more see our guides on the best Leica cameras, the best Leica M lenses, and the best film for 35mm

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Kalum Carter
Staff Writer

Kalum Carter is a UK-based photographer, writer, and photo editor. Kalum has been working as a freelance photographer for the best part of ten years, covering a wide range of assignments for well-known brands and publications in areas including portraiture, fashion, and documentary. 

Between commercial assignments, Kalum is currently working on a personal photography project exploring his connection to the Gower region of South Wales UK, as part of an MA in Photography from The University of West England.