Photo © Richard I'Anson

James on assignment in Morocco

Our 2018 Travel Photography Scholarship winner travels to Morocco for an all-expenses-paid mentorship opportunity.


James's assignment was to capture Morocco's colorful people, cultures and landscapes under the mentorship of travel photographer, Richard I'Anson. Here he writes about the lessons he learned on the intense yet rewarding experience.

Traveling through Morocco’s narrow medinas, vibrant squares and arid deserts while working alongside Richard I’Anson for the World Nomads Travel Photography Scholarship was an exhilarating, fast-paced and rewarding dream come true. It gave me a real view of what it is like to work as a professional travel photographer.

Richard and James looking out over a Moroccan village
James and Richard in Morocco. Photo credit: Yael Gaffney

As a seasoned world traveler I was fairly confident in my abilities as a photographer before the scholarship. But being constantly on the go and thrown into several situations on a daily basis where I was expected to produce worthwhile pictures challenged me more than I expected.

I generally travel with a much more open, relaxed schedule and my photography style reflects that. I like to go with the flow, taking photos as they present themselves, making friends along the way and will generally stay in a place several days until I feel I'm ready to move on to the next destination. Since the photography scholarship was only 12 days, I had to make the most of each and every situation without missing a moment because we would not be returning again.

2 men holding leather in a tannery in Morocco
In the tanneries of Marrakesh. Photo credit: James Griesedieck

The daily challenge of moving from place to place and taking pictures along the way was good for me. Richard would plan each day around the shots he wanted to get or what the lighting would be like. He didn’t care to go see an event if it wasn’t worthwhile for a picture. Richard summed this up with one of his many good tips by saying, “you have to decide whether you want to be a traveler that photographs, or a photographer that travels”.

James photographing in the sunset on an orange sand dune
James in the Moroccan Sahara. Photo credit: Richard I'Anson

Simply observing Richard working then comparing photos we both took at the same location made me realize I need to focus on simple things like knowing my camera better, focusing on composition and going into each and every situation ready for the next shot. Being a photographer for nearly 10 years I soon learned I didn't have as good a grasp of these things as I thought.

It was a true learning experience to work alongside a professional and observe him, watching what he chose to focus on and seeing the beautiful pictures he came out with from every location we visited. I know that I will be a better photographer having worked alongside Richard and I learned so much over the 12-day experience.

James with his camera looking out a window
James in Morocco. Photo credit: Richard I'Anson

Overall, the scholarship taught me more as a photographer than I could have imagined and I will always remember strolling through Morocco’s narrow medinas, watching camels cross the desert at sunset, eating countless tagines and our friendly guides who helped make this experience special. I was really able to see that to make it as a professional photographer one has to constantly be thinking about taking pictures all the while looking ahead for the next shot. I will always remember the many lessons that Richard and this opportunity taught me along the way.

Watch James's scholarship experience in Morocco: