Look How Moroccan Photographer Challenges Social Norms of Family and Culture

Published August 22nd, 2021 - 09:07 GMT
 Verified Can't be caged by Ismail Zaidy
Verified Can't be caged by Ismail Zaidy (Instagram)
His work is sharp, digital, and ultra-graphic, accompanied by an explosive sense of color.
He represents a new generation in Marrakech: passionate about art and the red city.
By Ewelina Lepionko

Ismail Zaidy is a young self-taught Moroccan photographer. He tells real slices of life in a universal language easy to understand.

He delivers an abstract and stylized portrait of his culture, which he intends to break free from traditional and orientalist motifs.


A post shared by Ismail Zaidy (@l4artiste)

Its style, both poetic and quirky, seduces beyond the borders of Morocco. He shots with his camera from the terrace of his family home, which he has since renamed studio. 

“Photography is a family affair to me. My younger brother Othmane and my sister Fatima are a big part of my work. They both play a huge part in developing the ideas behind the pictures. Family is intrinsic to my creativity.”
Ismail Zaidy 

He finds creative inspiration in his own family. The protagonists of his shots are his brothers, but also other people who, like him, see art as a means to express themselves freely.


“Through my pictures, I tackle the notions of gender equality, unity, and love. I try to promote through them the Moroccan culture and to shut down the stereotypes associated with my country. Morocco is not only a deserted country where people travel on animals’ backs”.

Colorful and minimal shots, here’s the Muslim culture. 

I think playing with colors and tones is a way of communicating my family’s problems as well as what’s been put in place for us as a society. I believe each color has a story, meaning, and reason behind it, and sometimes the colors are purely based on the beauty it gives off to the image itself.

Through recurring details, such as the use of the typical clothing of his country, djellaba, niqab, and hijab, which, in addition to influencing his photographic style, is what most frightens and distracts. His goal is to give voice to those who cover themselves by choice under strong colors. 

He experimented with various creative fields – writing, graphic design – before landing on photography. 

I started taking pictures about two years ago just before I finished my studies at university. My mum used to be a photographer so there was something bubbling up in me to continue the same thing. I began taking pictures of my surroundings upstairs on my terrace. After a time, I started taking it more seriously. I used the means available to me to develop and grow.

For the past two years, Zaidy has been creating images of life as he knows it with heightened fervor. 

“I was impressed by my imagination, and, my eye sees,” he says to Vogue.

Above all, he tries to include the components of what makes him who he is.

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