Chouara in Fes is claimed to be the oldest continuously worked tannery in the world, dating back to at least the 11th century. The method of processing sheep, goat, cow and camel hides in outdoor vats has changed little in 1,000 years.
Fez – Photo Tip

Find a scene and wait for people to enter it

Photo by Peter Adams

Fez – Photo Tip Find a scene and wait for people to enter it

The tanneries in Fez are a well established subject for photography in Morocco, so I really felt the need to try a different approach and show something new.

Peter Adams
Peter Adams Travel Photographer

I had been prepared for a strong smell but was relieved to find it was not too overpowering. That allowed me to take my time composing shots and wait for workers to wander into frame to add scale and reference. Once I had a set of good standard shots covering most angles, I felt free to experiment. I started by shooting several frames to stitch together as panoramas later on.

Then I decided that, with the richly colored dyes, a soft painterly effect was called for. I usually use my Lensbaby for head and shoulder portraits with the pleasing effect of accenting the sitter's eyes. However, it is an incredibly light and small lens so it tends to stay in the camera bag.

I focused on the center of the image at f11 as I did not want to overdo the special effect it produces. The dreamlike quality of the shots echoed my feeling that here was a scene that had not changed much for hundreds of years, indeed possibly from biblical times.

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Many of the workers in the tanneries of Fes are hired by the week, working ten-hour days in high temperatures for low pay. Even so, the jobs are in high demand given the local unemployment rate. Photo by Peter Adams

Peter Adams

Peter Adams

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Exposure
1/25
ISO
100
Focal
50/1 mm

Many of the workers in the tanneries of Fes are hired by the week, working ten-hour days in high temperatures for low pay. Even so, the jobs are in high demand given the local unemployment rate.

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