Photographer Omar Chennafi: Exclusive Interview


We make our way together in the winding streets of the old Medina Fez, a maze of fabric covered walls, colourful copper work and fragrant herbs envelop the senses. Among the hustle and bustle, Omar Chennafi – photographer – throws a hello or stops for a quick handshake; he seems to know everyone, young and old. “My photography is all about capturing and expressing emotion”, he says with the distant artsy glimmer in his eyes, (the sort that makes you want to give up your life, get a camera and live in a foreign land taking pictures.)  

“I am not very fond of still photography, even though I do a lot of that. Due to my environment, I am surrounded by beautiful nature and gorgeous Moroccan architecture, I take many stills, but I find them to be quite static”, he went on “what I really love is to try to capture that moment of emotion, in the eyes of an older man, in the movement of his hands, or in the careless posture of a young child in the street.” 

Omar Chennafi, a young photographer with some serious professional strides under his belt. His love for photography came to him as fate when he was given a camera by a visiting British friend to try out taking some pictures for fun. Next thing he knew, he was hooked! And good thing he was! His images have already been chosen by and featured in Time Magazine, and he has been chosen as the official photographer of the prestigious Festival de Fès des Musiques Sacrées du Monde (Festival of Sacred Music) in Fez, Morocco. 

Photography of Emotion … 

The Photography Club I Fez was first established in partnership with The American Language School. It is led by Omar, whose students range from professionals looking to advance their technique, to young beginners looking for a new hobby. 

“The way I see it my role is not really to guide or teach, but rather to assist and be there to answer their questions. They are the ones who decide what they want to do and where their talent leads them. I never say ‘do this’ or ‘take this sort of angel, this type of frame’. Photography is a way of personal expression and should be respected as such.”

What Omar does decide however is the subject of classes, which often tackle very interesting and one could argue ‘marginalized’ subjects. One such was the role of women and a close look at the daily details of their lives on a day-to-day basis. 

One particularly noteworthy project was giving a group of illiterate housewives cameras and asking them to capture some mundane daily events in their day-to-day lives in the medina as part of an international project run by the UN.


Time Magazine and the Festival of Sacred Music:

Omar’s work has been featured in Time  Magazine. He was also designated as the official Photographer at Festival de Fès des Musiques Sacrées du Monde.

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(Note: This article was originally published in 2014. Due to a server crash in 2018, it was deleted and reposted.)