Diary of a trip
Tu Anh Nguyen
33° 35' 17 N -7° 36' 40 O
Where does the desert start? It seems that it is at the end of the world, just at that point where even the last road gets lost in the dust and is no longer visible on the map. Let us be inspired by the experience of Tu Anh Nguyen.
Who is Tu Anh Nguyen?
Tu & Tara are destination wedding photographer & videographer duo who live in Germany but shoot weddings mostly in other parts of Europe: Greece, Italy, Spain, France and worldwide. They are a free-spirited couple who is having an aﬀair with life, nature and sunlight. One day at a time. Using classic cinema as an inspiration, each ﬁlm and image are beautifully composed with the addition of quiet sumptuousness. They love traveling and seeking adventure oﬀ the grid, building up an intimate atmosphere and crafting a visually cinematic story that reﬂects your love, your souls and your essence through photography and ﬁlm.
WHEN DID YOU VISIT Morocco? AND WHY?
I had a chance to visit Morocco from 8th to 12th June, 2018 to shoot an elopement wedding in Sahara desert.
HOW WAS YOUR TRIP? AND WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONs ONCE YOU LANDED?
Morocco is an amazing country with rich history, art, tasty food and stunning scenery. It’s very diﬀerent than anything I’ve ever seen before. Marrakech is so cool, chaotic and energetic, but I prefer the other parts of Morocco more, maybe because I’m always drawn to the sceneries and landscape than cities.
Did you plan your trip before you left? Anything that you would recommend to keep in mind?
Together with the bride and groom I did a lots of research and came up with a very detailed schedule of multiple days shooting. We also have booked a private, luxury tour that has been tailored to our need (photography oriented) so we have a driver and a car with us all the times, hence we can be ﬂexible and visit where and whenever we want. We also booked a camel trekking tour to Sahara and spent one night in the desert.
WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST TO PACK? Did you bring any medications or something out of the normal?
Packing lightly! Actually for a frequent traveler like us, packing is an art of itself to save space and time. Personally I use the Samsonite Scure Spinner for carry on bag. It’s spacious inside and small outside that could ﬁt in any airline’s cabins. Together with army packing hack and travel bag, I could bring so many stuﬀs with me with carry on bag only. Linen clothing and boots are perfect for Morocco. Sunscreen is a must if you don’t want to get sunburnt. Don’t forget sunglasses and something to cover your head under the full sun. I didn’t have any medicine with me though.
MOVING AROUND THE CITY REQUIRES SPECIAL Considerations?? WHAT MEANS OF TRANSPORT DID YOU USE (TAXI, TRAM, PUBLIC)?
We didn’t spend much time in the city. We were most of the time in rural area or countrysides or natural locations (gorges, desert…). We have a private driver all the times. We also did a bit of hiking.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE LANGUAGE: WAS IT WAS EASY TO COMMUNICATE IN ENGLISH?
We have a Moroccan driver and he does all the translation for us. Otherwise it would be a bit diﬃcult since we visited the rural and countryside only and many people there they don’t speak English.
Do you have any SUGGESTIONs and considerations when interacting with the locals? what should and shouldn't you do?
I think that the rule of thumb when visiting a new country is to learn the culture beforehand, know the common sense and blend in, show the local some respect. Learn to bargain with the street vendors at Medina in Marrakech – it’s a part of the culture here. Be openminded. Try new things. Taking photo of strangers could be a bit of taboo in Marrakech – they were not happy about it.
MUST see places
Sahara is magniﬁcent.
I saw a lots of photos of Sahara on Internet before but seeing it with your own eyes and senses – no word or picture couldn’t describe your feeling and do its beauty justice. Todra gorge is beautiful but way too many tourists. I would skip it if I’d know that. Dades Gorge is one of my favourite place in Morocco. In Dades, We had one amazing place called Dar Blues for ourselves for the night and it couldn‘t be any better. The hotel leaning against the lush green Dades Gorge, it was like an oasis, a safe haven in the middle of nowhere, between the inﬁnity of sunshine, rock and sand.
What equipment did you bring with you? Do you have any special advice on equipment here?
I’m very minimalistic when it comes to gears. I also don’t care too much about gears. Too many gears could be a distraction for me. And for that kind of destination elopement, less is also more. I had:
Sony a7rIII and a7sII
Zaiss Batis 25 mm
Sony 55 mm, 85mm
Do you know if there are any special regulations regarding the use of the Drone in the area you have visited?
It’s impossible to bring a drone to Morocco. It will certainly be conﬁscated at the airport. It’s also illegal to ﬂy a drone in Morocco. And the authority they takes this law very seriously.
Do you have a story to tell us about your experience?
The bride and the groom they did a trip to Morocco seven years ago. That’s how and where their love story started in the ﬁrst place.
We have a very distinctive style and shooting multi-day elopements is our specialty. Why multidays shooting? Because we have a slow burn approach to wedding photography and it requires more time to spend with the couple, get know of them and their backstory, their need, their intention and their life’s view to incorporate these elements into the images and story. For us what’s exciting is not just to create stunning images that could stand alone but also to observe their powers in a whole story. One of our couple used to say, “Depicting love with only hugging and kissing seems like an oversimpliﬁcation. For us love is transcending beyond all of that. It’s the loudness and quietness altogether.”
You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. It could be nothing. We just know that if we keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back, you climbed a snow-covered mountain summit. Or a few. Or got married in the desert of Sahara, surrounded by nothing but sand. Just a vast of endless emptiness.
I remember the night in Sahara desert and it was a sandstorm and I was standing there, outside of our tents in the darkness to take a long exposure photograph of the Milky Way. 20 Seconds of
Exposure, ISO 3200, Aperture f2. 20 Seconds of holding breath. 20 seconds of standing still in quietness. So many thoughts about life and love could happen in 20 seconds.
I remember the camel trekking into the sunset through the high sand dunes. “I had a dream I stood beneath an orange sky.” And now it came true. I ran among the dunes as Travis ran for ﬁve days in the ﬁlm Paris, Texas and fell, with my face against the sand. In the late afternoon sunlight over the endless sky, sand were so smooth and hot on my cheek brought me back some childhood memories 25 years ago, half way around the earth.
I remember the ceremony at sunrise when Victor saw Hiuman in her wedding dress the ﬁrst time on top of the camel. When she shredded tears while going down the memory lane seven years ago.
What is the memory of this journey that you will keep forever?
Of course the locations and landscapes and sceneries in Morocco are jaw-dropping but what’s even more important is the people you spent time with. I just felt that after every elopement like that, we have something diﬀerent in our souls, our hearts feel heavier because of the spirit of a new world that has just been built. After spending a couple of days in the far east of Morocco, our car rolled back over the familiar road, which connects two worlds that are near in number but somehow far away. Feeling like just passing through a mist so thick that you can feel water sticking on your face. Feeling of companion’s heartbeat: the murmur of the sound, the hard dry engine, the wheels grinding through the dirty road, the loud laugh of Human (the bride). You know over time, these brilliant images will keep dancing and showing up as the most beautiful memories: friends, lover and fellow human beings.
I and Hiuman (the bride), Victor (the groom) had such an amazing time together. They are my kind of couple and spending a few days with them felt naturally like just going on a road trip with friends together. We have seen so much, experienced so much, laughed so much, created so much. They kissed me saying goodbye and I won’t never forget that – after all, what is life but An Endless Stream of Collected Moments.
I love David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia. A masterpiece – it inspired how I shot this story a lots. This masterpiece epic doesn’t need any introduction. Sweeping, epic and literate version of British adventurer and soldier T E Lawrence’s experiences in Arabia during the First World War.
Set against a backdrop of the Arabian desert, David Lean frames the screen like a painter paints a canvas with the help of Freddie Young’s stunning cinematography to bring Lean’s vision to life. Also Morocco reminds me of some other ﬁlms like Babel or The English Patient.