Jihane Darkaoui: Black and White Street Photography in Morocco

All images by Jihane Darkaoui. Used with permission.

I’m a 19 year old Moroccan medical student drawn to photography for the many emotions it conveys. Seeing the world through a lens is like seeing a brand new world. I shoot with the Nikon D7100 18-140mm, and rarely with the Pentax K1000. I’ve been shooting since February 2017.

Don McCullin is to me a true legend of the photographic world. His work has depicted the impoverished, the unemployed, the downtrodden, etc. He inspires me to capture images that have a voice. The Flickr community inspires me as well. Every photo teaches you something. Photography is a creative process. There is always something new to learn. And we need to hone that skill every single day.

I’ve always been quiet, more of an observer. And I’ve always enjoyed observing and reading the different mannerisms, body languages, human interactions and appreciating all the differences. I’ve always been fascinated with all kinds of human behavior and noticed everything around me, from light to shapes, textures to colors. But I wasn’t always able to express myself. When I was in elementary school, I was very shy and I really struggled expressing myself when I was around people. And the only way that I could get all of that out was through writing and photography. I’m also a very private person, kind of an introvert. But photography is my excuse to go out.

I feel like I am more of a documenter. That’s why I have a preference for street photography. I use it as fuel for my creativity. I feel like, when I am on the street, my brain is continuously generating new ideas. Why do I prefer it? Because it’s about documenting the society of our time, through photos and stories of the daily life. It is very much like a typical Bollywood drama. You will meet different people that convey different emotions from hope to sorrow, love to fear. And that is why it’s so endearing to me. It is also a challenging experience because it is about that moment when the frame tells a story. You can be a few seconds late, and it’s gone. It’s not like studio photography. If you miss a shot, you don’t get to ask people to pose again, you can’t control the light, you can’t plan the shot. It’s this interplay between elements in the frame actually happening and your sense of observation that make it a different way to approach photography.

I usually shoot in black and white because I feel that it’s easier to capture the essence of the story I want to tell. It is raw, pure, soft, honest and speaks in a way that colors can’t. I think that colors can be very distracting. They unveil material details such as pigments, distracting elements of the skin, clothing that can really take the focus out of the subject. And to shoot in black and white is really challenging because you have to give up your sense of color, be open for an alternative interpretation and see the world in another way. In black and white, I feel more free.

What inspires me to shoot? The details on the petals of the perfectly yellow cherry blossoms, the mirthful joy on youngsters faces, how a face changes during a laugh, how body language reflects a mood, the shapes and textures, trees and flowers, the rapid fluidity and sense of happenstance that occurs as I walk around, the world. All captured and contained in a single small frame. Beauty captured forever, never to be forgotten.

One of the greatest powers of photography is the ability of expressing one’s emotions through it. You can get a sense of what a photographer is like as a person by looking at their work, and those impressions can be very different from one person to another. Because we tend to bring our own life experiences to everything we perceive. And I find this aspect of photography very fascinating and fulfilling. That’s why I always leave space for interpretation so that everyone can make up their own story, their own fantasy, and imagine their own meaning of whatever photograph which is maybe better than reality.

Through my project, i’m trying to produce expressive photographs conveying the realities and diversities of human life, and to transform emotions into candid images that reflect many of life’s subtleties. And that’s what I believe makes my photograph different and poignant.