Photographers take risks when they step out onto the street, in marshy fields, narrow pathways, or rocky landscapes. I am often absorbed in the moment and so involved in capturing an image that I forget to be completely aware of my surroundings. And, perhaps rather naively, trust that I will always be okay as long as I am generally careful in my environment.
Two weeks ago I was in Marrakech on a photography trip. I stayed in a riad in the medina, (walled city,) and enjoyed the intense sights, sounds, and smells of this incredibly vibrant Moroccan city. Bustling is an understatement. Besides pedestrians, the main square, (Jemaa el-Fna,) is filled with motorbikes, donkey carts, cars, bicycles, trucks, horses and carriages, people pushing or pulling laden carts, vendors selling all manner of goods, snake charmers, shoe polishers, and much more. It’s important to pay attention as you walk through the crowds to get to the somewhat quieter maze of souks.
Generally, the people of Morocco do not like to be photographed. (I’ll expand on this in another post.) I made an agreement with a prickly pear vendor to take pictures of his juicy fruits. He and his son moved the cart so that I could get a better shot without too much glare from the midday sun. I had just taken one step back to frame my shot when all of a sudden the boy grabbed my arm and pushed me. In an instant I thought he was going to take my camera and bag when I saw him motion in the direction of my right shoulder. There, coming around a corner and barrelling down on me, was a donkey and cart. This young man literally rescued me from being trampled and seriously harmed. The edge of the donkey cart hit my right arm and I was incredibly lucky to have only a swelling and bruise on my hand and wrist and, of course, the ability to tell this story. We never know when someone is going to be “there” for us and I will always be grateful that the young man instinctively reached out to help me.
I walked away rather shaken and then went back to reward the boy. I knew it wasn’t necessary but he was pleased to be acknowledged for helping me.
This experience was definitely a wake-up call to be more aware of my surroundings before, during, and after I take photographs.
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