Anass is one of the first Moroccan photographers that I was honoured to meet. I was genuinely amazed when I saw his photos of the Atlas Mountains for the first time. He was one of the first Storytellers in our event, PAGES – The Other Sides of Morocco, he presented his photos to the audience in Chapter#1 in June 2014, we both were invited to the same AIESEC conference in Agadir in July 2015.
I find him a very inspiring person and today I’d like to introduce you to Anass and show you his stunning photographs.
I’ve asked Anass several questions about his biggest passions: photography and climbing, so you can understand the nature of this lifestyle.
How did you find out that photography is your passion? Tell us briefly your journey.
I didn’t practice photography at a young age; in fact I knew nothing about it beyond the annual photography class at school. The first time I saw through a lens was when I had a toy camera that contains some landscape pictures that change whenever you press the shutter release button. After that I had many cameras; nothing professional just the digitl ones to take souvenir photos.
I can say that I knew photography like 10 years ago, I had very limited knowledge and it was this new thing that I’m getting into. At the time I had no camera, I was just trying to photograph with my phone or mediocre cameras that don’t allow you to control any of their settings. 3 years later my love for photography grew stronger and since I was studying applied arts at high school I ended up wanting to improve myself a lot, so I bought my first real camera and started to learn the basics. By then I knew that photography is my prime passion.
You’re a climber too. How did you start that?
Ah, it’s the most amazing thing in my life. I used to travel and hike a lot even before I started climbing. I tried and practiced many other sports before but I didn’t feel so attached to them therefore I end up quitting them. I used to like the mountains, and whenever I go there I love them even more, so hiking became an important activity to me. And since I was getting my head around photography too I was experimenting and trying many genres (Fashion, portraits, events…) but I wasn’t really comfortable doing them. I couldn’t help but take many landscapes in my travels, and I was motivated to improve at landscapes and/or outdoor photography when National Geographic published one of my pictures on their website.
I experimented a lot, took as many pictures as I could and I realized that I wanted to take pictures from places that are hard to reach in the mountains, places that urge you to have climbing experience before all. I started to learn how to climb as a necessity to polish my photography but it ended up being the exact sport that I was searching for and needed and it ended up being a lifestyle.
What’s the thing you enjoy the most about climbing?
Haha, I’d like to quote Royal Robbins who said:
“The beautiful thing about climbing is that you can’t justify it.”
Words actually fail me to describe what I feel during a climb. First of all it’s challenging to one’s self, it’s freeing, it’s strengthening and it makes you see how small of a creature you are in this universe. You’ll never know a mountain regardless of how experienced you are. During a climb you experience fear and adrenaline running through your veins although you’re familiar with climbing basics and safety regulations. Always remember that you’re attached to nature and no one knows when it will change.
In all your photos we can see the passion you have for the mountains. What’s so special about them, according to you?
Yes, I can say that I photograph what I love and admire to see, and since I’m into outdoor photography I tend to try to take in the beauty and greatness that surrounds the mountains. I know I can’t make a picture transfer what I feel or see through my own eyes so I try to show through it how beautiful it is to leave the busy and noise city lifestyle, to leave manmade things. I always say that regardless of how much you’ll write about the mountain, regardless of how much you tell others about it, and regardless of how many pictures I take you’ll still need to get your backpack and visit it yourself if you want to feel it.
How have your passions influenced your life ?
Photography and climbing are the most important things in my life. My passions made me think everything through before making a decision and I’m healthier thanks to them. And of course you’ll have to put some efforts into training and practicing if you want to make a good climb.
And most importantly they offered me the opportunity to know and meet some amazing people. I took parts of many events and my photos was published in many magazines and International websites… it’s a nice life experience. I’m proud to have climbed with interesting people and learned from their experiences.
My passions truly became a lifestyle. That’s why I share it with my loved ones and I hope to share it with the girl that I’m going to fall for.
What would you tell to a beginner climber / photographer?
I’ll tell them exactly what I was advised to do in my beginning.. I am still learning and I’ll never stop learning. I’ll tell beginner photographers to love what you do first and to seek knowledge. Learn the basics, read and see the greats’ artworks. Get acquainted with better and more experience photographers than you are… For instance there are some Moroccan associations that help out beginners. Learn the basics and polish your artistic views and knowledge, but remember that your most impressive and important pictures will be taken off class. They’ll be taking during a time you’ll dedicate to your creativity.
As for climbers, I’ll advise them to train and experience the discipline as much as they can. Just make sure that you want to climb because you chose to. I know that rock climbing needs training and special gear etc… But actually all you have to do is to start, to visit a mountain and let it make you fall for it.
Sum up in one sentence what photography and climbing are for you?
For me: Everything!!!
Life is like a mountain that we climb. The beautiful thing about it is that once you reach the summit you must descend again, so you feel the greatness of your achievement. Also, you end up acquiring experience to climb a harder summit. That’s life to me. If you feel like you’ve reached the summit but you’re not about to descend, then know for sure that you haven’t reached the summit.
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