On the trail of the last Free Men

Imazighen“, free men, is how the Berbers prefer to call themselves. Free men who have made the desert their home, nomadism their way of survival, and herding their livelihood. Keepers of a distant world and unparalleled hospitality, they live in tents pitched in the rocky desert and have learned to live in symbiosis with nature, which in these places can be truly arid and inhospitable.

Workshop details

9 days
€ 1.290


Thanks to Youssef‘s guidance, his Berber origins, his deep knowledge of the desert, and his 10 years of experience as a guide, we will journey through sand dunes, rocks, and volcanic stones in search of the last free men. This quest may not always be easy, and we must keep our eyes wide open to spot goats or camels, a sign that their owner with his tent is hidden nearby.

What makes this photography trip truly unique and different from all others is the unparalleled opportunity to spend a day and night in a real Berber nomad camp. It will be a night far from all the comforts we are accustomed to – no mattresses, no bathrooms, no electricity. However, this all-encompassing experience will allow us to truly understand what it means to live as nomads. We will deeply connect with our subjects and harmonize with the Berbers who host us, making our photography journey an authentic adventure and our reportage a testimony of a population with roots dating back to 20,000 B.C.

Inspiration gallery

Stops and itinerary

Marrakech will need to be reached independently by each participant. Right after booking the workshop, Ilaria will be available to assist with flight choices and connect participants departing from the same airport, so they can get to know each other and fly together.

Depending on the arrival time, each traveler will find a transfer waiting to take them to our Riad. If flight schedules allow, we will enjoy the afternoon in Marrakech, then we will introduce the workshop program and prepare for the journey ahead.

Dinner on your own and overnight stay in the Riad.

After breakfast, we’ll explore the Medina of Marrakech, one of Morocco’s most captivating imperial cities, known as the “Pearl of the South“. Guided by a local guide, we’ll walk through the city, capturing all the photographic opportunities that arise and immersing ourselves in its atmosphere.

We’ll visit the city’s most iconic landmarks, including the Saadian Tombs, Ben Youssef Medersa, Koutoubia Gardens, and the Bahia Palace. We’ll also explore the souk and wander through the city’s alleys, which provide fascinating backdrops. Our tour will culminate at the famous Djemaa El Fna Square, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where a continuous spectacle unfolds: snake charmers, fire-eaters, and various artists.

Afterward, you’ll have free time for dinner and return to the Riad. In the evening, we’ll review the shots, have the first editing and post-production session.

Learning to edit, which involves selecting the best photographs from all those taken during the photo reportage, is essential because each shot must be chosen not only for its beauty but also for its functionality within the visual narrative. Each image should support the story we want to tell, investigate the details, and offer different perspectives.

Similarly, it’s important to learn the post-production technique, as it allows us to make the photographs even more compelling and functional for the narrative by correcting certain parameters.

After breakfast, we will head south in Morocco. The final destination is the enchanting Valley of Roses, but the entire journey will be a visual delight for our eyes and cameras.

We will cross the high Atlas Mountains at the Col du Tichka pass (2260 meters), from where you can admire the spectacular landscapes of the High Atlas. We will visit the splendid Kasbah Telouet and Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah, a beautiful sandcastle magically nestled in an almond field, so beautiful with its play of light that it has become the backdrop for many famous films such as “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Gladiator.” It is the only kasbah that preserves the authentic architecture of southern Morocco and has earned UNESCO World Heritage status.

We will finish the journey in Kelâat M’Gouna, in the Valley of Roses.

Dinner at the Riad, followed by a review and editing of the photos.

After breakfast, we will visit Kelâat M’Gouna, the Valley of Roses, which hosts the Rose Festival every year. In May, 3 to 4 thousand tons of Damascena roses are harvested, which, according to legend, were brought by Berber pilgrims returning from Damascus. At the end of the harvest, the inhabitants descend from the mountains in traditional attire and participate in 3 days of celebration, featuring singing, dancing, markets, a procession of floats, and a beauty contest during which the Rose Queen is crowned.

During the celebration of this Festival, which attracts 300,000 people every year, there will be plenty of opportunities to photograph and narrate a sixty-year-old Berber tradition through our unique perspective.

We will then continue to Merzouga, in the heart of the Erg Chebbi desert, where we can appreciate the iconic dunes and the pure beauty of the landscape under a starry sky.

Dinner at the Riad, followed by a review and editing of the photos.

After admiring a beautiful sunrise over the dunes, the day will be entirely dedicated to exploring the Merzouga region. We will visit a nomadic camp and a settled Berber family, where we will be guests for lunch to get to know their way of life and customs up close.

We will have the unique opportunity to sleep in a real Berber nomadic camp, guests of the last Imazighen, literally “Free Men“. This will give us the irreplaceable chance to experience firsthand what it means to live as nomads, in harmony with the arid and inhospitable nature of these places. We can get up close and personal with their habits, empathize with their difficulties and joys, and capture the true essence of this way of life with our photographs.

Since it’s a real nomadic camp, the overnight stay will be without the comforts we’re accustomed to. Still, the opportunity to connect with the subject of our reportage that this experience provides will be invaluable.


After the wake-up call, we’ll head to Rissani to visit its lively local market. It’s a typical rural market where farmers and merchants from the surrounding areas converge. Rissani is the capital of dates, but, in general, all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and spices arrive here. You’ll also find the typical livestock market where cows, donkeys, and goats are bought and sold. The photographic opportunities will be endless, but your skill will be to make yourself invisible because not everyone enjoys being photographed.

Next, we’ll continue to Sidi Ali, near the Algerian border, where we’ll encounter settled Berber villages and have a close experience with their way of life, customs, and costumes. In this part of the desert, which is less frequented by typical tourist routes, you’ll find very interesting panoramic views with pristine sand dunes.

We’ll then proceed with the review of the shots, editing session, and the second post-production lesson.

Dinner and overnight stay in a Riad.

In the morning, we’ll deepen our knowledge of the area and its inhabitants, then embark on the journey to Agdz. This road is very interesting in terms of landscapes, but, more importantly, there will be an opportunity to encounter and get close to nomadic shepherds tending to their animals, capturing all the photographic opportunities that arise.

We will also pass through the beautiful Draa Valley, a fertile and long valley that winds from the mountains to the Sahara Desert, bordered by oases and palm groves.

Dinner and overnight stay in a Riad.

After breakfast, we will head back to Marrakech. On the way back, we will visit Ouarzazate, known as the Hollywood of Morocco, its film studios, and the famous Taourirt Kasbah, one of the best-preserved kasbahs in Morocco.

We will cross the High Atlas Mountains again, providing another opportunity to capture unique photographic moments in this landscape. Arrival in Marrakech is expected in the late afternoon. After resting, there will be the opportunity to review and select your shots with the instructor. The final post-production lesson will be provided.

Dinner will be on your own, and you will stay overnight in a Riad in Marrakech.

Dopo colazione, in base all’orario del volo di ogni partecipante, sarà a disposizione il transfer all’aeroporto.

Nel frattempo, ci sarà la possibilità di scambiarsi opinioni e considerazioni sull’avventura appena conclusa, di rivedere gli scatti, di chiedere gli ultimi consigli, di dedicarsi all’editing e alla postproduzione.

Conclusione del workshop.

After breakfast, depending on the flight schedule of each participant, the airport transfer will be available.

In the meantime, there will be an opportunity to share opinions and thoughts about the adventure that has just concluded, review your shots, seek any final advice, and work on editing and post-production.

End of the workshop.

Necessary equipment

  • Digital camera (DSLR or mirrorless);
  • A set of lenses depending on your availability and photographic style. A good telephoto lens is recommended;
  • Laptop for editing sessions;
  • Memory cards;
  • Cleaning cloth and/or a complete cleaning kit (brush, blower) for dealing with dust and sand;
  • Power bank for times spent at the camp where electrical power won’t be available;
  • Sleeping bag with a comfort temperature rating for overnight stays in the tented camp;
  • Inflatable camping pillow for overnight stays in the tented camp.

The accompanying photographer uses a Canon setup with EF lenses and will gladly lend it to you if needed.
Editing sessions may sometimes take place in locations where electrical outlets might not be available for everyone. It’s essential to ensure that your laptop’s battery is in good condition.

Workshop objectives

The workshop will focus on the men and women who still live according to nomadic customs and lifestyles. Berber culture has its roots in the origins of the first people who inhabited the areas we will explore, but we will also visit places where Berber traditions and ways of life have inevitably been influenced by Arab culture.

We will encounter people who live with very little, immersed in a harsh environment from which they are able to make the most of every opportunity for sustenance, both for themselves and the animals they raise. We will have the opportunity to create not just one but several stories, each potentially independent yet intertwined with the others. The main challenge will be choosing the right photographs because there will be numerous sources of creative inspiration.

You will be guided to select and direct your photographic action based on what your own sensibilities allow you to see.

What the fee includes and does not include

  • Help with trip preparation: receiving all the useful information via email several weeks before the photographic journey;
  • Arrival transfer from Marrakech airport to accommodation at the time specified based on your flight;
  • Departure transfer from accommodation to Marrakech airport at the time specified based on your flight;
  • Private equipped car (4 × 4 Land Cruiser);
  • An Italian-speaking guide who accompanies us throughout the journey;
  • Stay in all hotels or riads in a standard double room.
  • All breakfasts;
  • Guided tour of Marrakech;
  • Lunch on the day of the visit to the Merzouga region, at the Berber family’s home;
  • Economic contribution to the nomadic and settled Berbers to ensure the proper conduct of the photographic workshop;
  • Individual and continuous assistance from the photographic workshop instructor throughout the trip.
Not included
  • Airfare;
  • Lunches;
  • Beverages;
  • Tips;
  • Insurance;
  • Anything not expressly specified in “What’s included”.

Useful information

  • The workshop will run with a minimum of 6 participants and will accommodate a maximum of 8;
  • Passport: to enter Morocco, it is mandatory to have a passport with at least 6 months of remaining validity from the planned end date of the trip.
  • Itineraries may be subject to changes due to logistical needs and/or adverse weather conditions.
  • In May, the temperature has a significant fluctuation between day and night. It will be warm but not excessively hot during the daytime, while it tends to cool down significantly in the evening. Also, don’t forget the presence of wind, so we recommend being equipped with a pair of long pants, a sweatshirt, a windproof jacket, and a scarf to cover your nose, mouth, and ears (here’s why the Berbers wear turbans!). Of course, it will also be possible to purchase various types of scarves locally.
  • Due to the presence of the wind, we recommend bringing lip balm and eye drops;
  • For those who suffer from motion sickness, it is advisable to have anti-nausea medication with them to avoid discomfort when crossing the High Atlas and during off-road sections in the desert;
  • Luggage: since we will load all the luggage into the vehicles, it’s important to minimize the size of your bags, especially considering the short duration of the photography journey.
  • We recommend carrying generic medicines (pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, fever reducers) to offer to the nomads if they are in need. We also suggest bringing notebooks, pencils, colors, games, and stuffed animals for the children. Alternatively, if desired, these items can be purchased at the Rissani market.
  • Power outlets: typically, the power outlets have two pins with a voltage of 230 V (similar to Italy). Please remember that it won’t be possible to charge your devices during the night in the desert. We recommend, therefore, bringing a power bank.

Terms of payment

  • The booking can be made by 21/01/2024.
  • To confirm the booking, a deposit equal to 30% of the workshop cost will be required. The remaining balance must be paid by 28/02/2024.
  • Payments can be made via bank transfer or Satispay.
  • The workshop will be confirmed upon reaching the minimum number of participants, set at 6. In case the workshop is canceled by StoryWorks, the deposit will be refunded.

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