A letter from Louis talking on mental health and Morocco
I thought I’d give you a taster of 2 rolls from travels to Morocco. Around November 2016 I decided that I wanted to go somewhere completely different. To be quite honest with you, I really enjoyed shooting Paris, London and Liverpool but I wanted a complete change of scene. Somewhere where it would shock the socks off my skinny UK 12 feet and Morocco was the place. Also I knew the lighting would be good. I am not very good with uncertainty so I wanted a place where there would be a 100% chance that the sun would be brighter than my future.
Unfortunately around October 2016 I wasn’t having the best time with my mental health. I had a couple of events which my brain didn’t react too well too. The scariest thing was that I was losing interest in photography, skateboarding, art, music, Hummus and everything I really loved. I ended up going to the doctors about where I found out what was going on in my brain. Turns out it was a cocktail of severe anxiety, depression and OCD. Too many complicated terms but it wasn’t a walk in the park. I guess fellas don’t talk about their mental health too often and I was really embarrassed to tell my close friends about it. However looking back 5/6 months later, I think I would be more embarrassed if I didn’t seek proper help. I then decided to book 2 holidays. Morocco and Barcelona were booked in the space of 2 days. Nothing screams boosting your serotonin like warm weather, my Leica and good coffee.
I only took my Leica M6, 10 rolls of Portra 400 and clothes (including my quirky Supreme trousers that my friends always make fun off). As a person, I just enjoy speaking to absolutely everyone and that’s all I did. I would approach spice sellers, taxi drivers, berber villagers, guides, people selling lizards, the list goes on. Or they more likely approached me asking to buy their carpets or pots. Lord knows how I’m going to fit a 10 ft Moroccan carpet in hand luggage. I politely declined the fella who also tried to sell me a tortoise too. I also didn’t appreciate monkeys that were dressed up as victorian women being thrown onto my nugget for a picture. But it’s all part of the experience! I just laughed but inside I was having a minor panic attack. There’s no way I’m getting bitten by a chimp.
I loved the Moroccan culture. They’re loud, persistent and positive. To be honest, a lot like myself. We got on like a house on fire. My face looked as if it were set on fire. I was tomato rouge by the end of the trip. Never ever trust clouds. They do not cover up the sun. I took a series of portraits, animals, landscapes, vehicles, streets, anything that caught my eye. Everything caught my eye which was terrible. I was in a new setting and I shot those 10 rolls of film vanished faster than Gareth Gates’ music career.
Hiking the Atlas mountains were intriguing and knackering. A Berber woman cooked us the best Tagine, pumpkin soup and Cinnamon-soaked Orange pieces that I had ever eaten. My stomach was happier than a Uni student receiving his loan. I felt replenished and ready to shoot the mountains and people. Again we encountered Argan oil-makers who showed us how Argan oil was made. It’s not just for your ladies’ locks, you can also eat it like peanut butter. I suggested to the Moroccan guide that we could start a new trend of Argan oil butter and Jam sandwiches in London. We would be raking in the customers. It could be like new Avocado on toast.
I loved walking around Marrakesh. My father also joined me on the trip. He is very similar to myself apart from he is 48 with a bigger shnozle. He is also into his photography and he could see how happy I was walking around and shooting in the Souks and chatting to the locals and taking their portraits.
I hope you enjoy some of the photos I sent to you. I wish I could send you all of them but I want to leave a couple of surprise for the book!
Also, this was also a bit of an open letter for fellas who were in the same situation as myself months ago. If you’re feeling horrendous in your head, please speak to your close mates or go to the doctors. It really helps. Find a hobby, get stupidly infatuated with it and everything will be fine. As fellas, we are far too scared to speak about our problems which I think is ridiculous. Depression is the biggest killer for men under the age of 35 and we are less likely to seek help. The best thing I ever did was book that GP appointment and that trip to Morocco!”
Words and photos by Louis Leon Bever