Hard work at the tannery
Tanning is the process of treating skin of animals to produce leather. Traditionally, it used tannin, hence the name. Its utility is to make the skins rotproof. Moroccan leather has been known for centuries for its good quality and reasonable prices. To illustrate this, just think that in French the word "maroquinerie", introduced in early 1600s, designs the industry using fine leather to make goods like wallets, handbags, belts, etc. Still today, the leather industry plays a key role in Morocco’s economy (production of about 227 million Euros in 2008 according to fibre2fashion.com), with the shoe industry being its most important segment.
Working in a tannery like this one in Marrakech seems hard work in difficult conditions. Here the French saying "Quand on se regarde on se désole, quand on se compare on se console" totally applies for me. Part of the difficult conditions is the awful smell. Any dedicated improvised guide is likely to tell you that the smells are due to using guano and pigeon droppings. I suspect that there might also be other not so friendly compounds and that it’s not a very sanitary place to be day after day. But I haven’t researched this aspect of things. Perhaps that one gets used to the bad smells and the occasional happy tourists popping through your office’s door; I prefer not to try. Photos of Moroccan tanneries are not a rarity, especially the ones from Fez, but often taken from surrounding roofs and so a little further from the action.
I said several times to friends that Morocco is, in my opinion, one of the most photogenic countries. I visited three times, my first time in late 70s when I was a teenager experiencing his first big trip abroad. Over the following decades, I think there has been a kind of shift in the attitude of people towards photography, perhaps especially among young people, and the last time I had to face situations close to paranoiac crises that would have just seemed unimaginable 30 years ago. Real change or personal feeling due to bad luck? That being said, I consider myself respectful of people in any circumstances and I don’t try to impose my values while being a guest in a foreign country. Ironically, if only a few of my TE photos were stolen (and utilized elsewhere) since I began posting here, all those that were stolen were from Morocco! Not that I mind so much, it’s just a hobby after all. No, it’s just that this makes my recent photo-related experience with Moroccans looks even more bizarre.
Critiques | Translate
janjan1897 (1667) 2012-10-07 13:56
Un endroit toujours aussi impressionnant et apprécié des photographes. Ton cadrage de la scène est intéressant, montrant bien la dureté du travail de cet homme et restituant parfaitement l'atmosphère du lieu. Les couleurs sont naturelles et ressortent bien, et la netteté de la photo est également excellente. Il ne manque plus que les odeurs !
marabu61 (8755) 2012-10-07 14:02
Wow, great capture of this tannery scene. The lonely man seems almost lost among all those tanning vats. Great composition. I just do hope the smell wasn't to bad?
trés bonne semaine
williewhistler (14697) 2012-10-07 14:05
given the less than perfect light this is a cracking shot,taken from a good view point it shows a traditional task being performed,nice details are apparent throughout the shot.
ManuMay (35531) 2012-10-07 15:08
I remember when visiting the place...really a hard and dangerous work, a lot of dangerous products to irritate skin and eyes...
I like very much the way you have composed the capture, its colours and textures, a very good photo work!
Have a nice day...
batalay (35791) 2012-10-07 15:11
Your essay is as engaging as the compelling nature of your photo. I have been around tanneries a number of times when I wondered what is the source of the smell, and can it not be eliminated. The composition, exotic nature, the color highlight provided by the worker's red shirt, the depth-of-field... all the elements collaborate to make this a first rate photo.
bukitgolfb301 (36516) 2012-10-07 16:03
Hi dear Claude
Another wondeful shot indeed. I think this shot is very well carculated for framwork and composition, Claude! Perfect balanced shot for nice selected panfocus! Tasteful color touch and allocation is also nice. Thank you for your sharing with nice work and have a good new week!
Takero from Tokyo
SnapRJW (31613) 2012-10-08 2:53
Hello Claude - I loved your note, informative and with a strong personal perspective. I also love the shot and whilst I have seen images of the tanneries before I like your vantage point, it gives a good feel for the scale of the vats and the general conditions of work. A highlight for me is the placement of the young man in the red shirt - perfect. The echo of colour in the red doors is a super bonus. Well managed and a super DL shot. Warm regards Rosemary
CanmoreKevin (2111) 2012-10-08 6:58
This photo shows the vastness of the whole process. I can imagine the smell that this must produce. I like that in spite of all of the things going on one lone figure manages to be the centre of attention. Nice composition.
yquem46 (38746) 2012-10-08 9:44
une bonne image pleine de réalisme, au contact direct des travailleurs et des bacs de traitement des peaux
Contrairement à Fes, tu as pu ici t'approcher au même niveau
Quel courage d'aller au plus près respirer la forte odeur du lieu!
Bravo et bonne soirée
marina7 (8055) 2012-10-09 13:05
I have very vague memories of a tannery I visited in Marrakech, can't even say if it's the same, because I saw it on the run and as you say "a little further from the action":) It must have been a day off there because I can't recall that "special" smell you write about whereas the smell from the production of their famous fish sauce that is made from "not very fresh" fish has stayed with me forever, lol.
I like the way you composed the shot with the worker in the corner and a cluster of those tanning bowls forming a great perspective and giving good depth to the image.
And I like the accents of red on the man's shirt and the doors.
I always remember Marrakech sort of as a fairy-tale place from the Middle Ages. And I feel it again looking at your picture.
Thanks and my best wishes
Nard (6972) 2012-10-10 0:42
Les tanneries sont des endroits merveilleux pour les photographes et ton cadrage donne une impression de densité incroyable. ca donne une très bonne photo reportgae mais aussi un bel effet graphique.
emilbo (22616) 2012-10-10 12:52
Merci de nous présenter des images d'ailleurs qui sont très intéressantes. C'est à ne pas y croire à voir tous ces bassins en ciment. Excellente composition et bien vu d'avoir inclus le travailleur au bon endroit. Bel éclairage, bons détails et parfait rendu des couleurs.
Bravo!... et toutes mes amitiés,
kasianowak (7073) 2012-10-16 2:07
I love the composition in this image with repetitive pattern of round vats. In my mind it reflects a typical life of a tannery worker - repetitive with nowhere to hide.
delpeoples (53421) 2012-10-16 5:11
Salut cher Claude
There are many photos of the tanneries of Marrakesh here on TE. But your POV is so unique, this photo really stands out from the crowd. Usually we see the view from above. But you are up close and personal here, and I love that. Once again, the definition is superb, the colours and of course the subject so extraordinary. How often does one get to see something like this in their lifetime. You are truly blessed and I thank you for sharing your experiences and such an excellent photo with us.
wolf38 (31282) 2012-11-01 10:46
Hi Claude. This beautiful photo reminds me of my stay in Morocco a few years ago. Yes, I have admired the Tannery. Title, Photo and text complement each other perfectly. Rgds wolfgang.
mkamionka (30921) 2012-11-04 10:21
beautiful picture and a very interesting note. I like the great depth of the field here and the busy view full of shapes and textures. The boy in the red shirt sticks out of the picture and adds so much interest here.
Sad to hear about the difficult conditions people have to work in. Also sad to hear that people steal photos from TE. I just found one case of my photo being stolen may be because mine are not that precious or I just did not have the chance to see them elsewhere.
Thanks for sharing,
macjake (57490) 2013-04-25 15:20
how could anyone not enjoy seeing a scene like this.
And i like your 'next' post too, following this scene up with a Canadian one thats 180 degrees opposite :)
smart compo, leaving out the skyline, that we we focus in on the elements. beauty!!!
jcpix (13708) 2013-05-09 16:56
Love the composition, this compact framing really brings out the detail and texture of this tannery. The muted, natural tones combined with a splash of color mixed in is a beautiful effect. I'm always attracted to shapes, and this arrangement offers a lot of neat aspects to enjoy. :) It has a real workmanship quality, both in the daily life element as well as your splendid execution. Hard to imagine working in these tight conditions, it sure makes for a great photo opportunity though. Thanks for sharing this look about the local industry. Bonne journee.
Al the best,
PaulVDV (23023) 2013-11-02 2:10
J'ai visité les tanneries de Fès. Mais les conditions difficiles pour les travailleurs sont les mêmes partout.
De votre point de vue bas, nous obtenons une belle image, très graphique.
J'aime aussi la composition et la netteté excellente.
Bonne journée, Paul
Vasa (16778) 2013-11-02 3:27
tu as realise un de mes forts reves de voir le Maroc "un des plus photogenique pays", speciallement ce coin de Marrakesh. J'imagine qu'on peut y rester longtemps allant a l'encontre des scene peu banales. Malgre les odeurs.
sevy (15365) 2013-12-16 1:25
Une photo qui me rappelle des souvenirs.
Très bon cadrage: ça montre le lieux, les acteurs et l'arrière plan est bien inclu.
Super ce travailleur en pull rouge en premier plan: ça donne l'échelle et l'action.
- Copyright: Claude Belanger (cebe) (1481)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2011-01-07
- Categories: Daily Life
- Camera: Canon EOS 450D, EF-S18-55 f3.5-5.6 IS, Circular Polarizer
- Exposure: f/5.6, 1/60 seconds
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Date Submitted: 2012-10-07 13:20
- Favorites: 1 [view]