Tabit Rida plays with light and shadow in his evocative images

The Moroccan photographer is using his documentary-focused practice to portray a different side of his home country, away from images of tourism

Tabit Rida’s introduction to photography came in 2017, when by chance he was given the opportunity to assist a number of established photographers. His eyes were quickly opened to the art form’s ability to tell stories and convey emotions without using words, and he began documenting anything and everything on the streets of Marrakech.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2020, when he finished his masters degree in economics in the midst of the pandemic, that he considered photography as a full-time profession. “The pandemic and the lack of job opportunities in my field of studies made it easy for me to take the decision to pursue what I love the most in life – photography and storytelling,” he tells CR.

Today, Rida’s work centres around his primary source of inspiration: Moroccan culture. “I believe that photography is an observation exercise. In fact, when you live in a country with a very rich culture like Morocco, inspiration is everywhere. You just need to look around and keep it simple,” he says.

With the Moroccan tourism industry heavily affected by the onset of the pandemic, Rida took the opportunity to document the often overlooked reality of Marrakech, beyond tourism and crowds. The series formed the basis of his 2021 show In Times of Stillness, which was exhibited as part of the Middle East Now Festival in Florence, Italy.

“Marrakech has been known for its touristic and exotic places,” says Rida. “From its majestic palaces and guesthouses to the busiest souks and traditional markets. However, this project reveals encounters of daily life in the midst of a sense of solitude and stillness during the past two years of the pandemic.”

More recently, the photographer’s background in economics has inspired his decision to use the medium of photography as a research tool to deal with the social and economic issues in Moroccan society, as seen in his ongoing project Sacrificed Generation.

“This project explores the impact of the current economic crisis caused by the pandemic on Moroccan youth and the difficulties they have encountered in accessing the job market. The goal of this project is to represent the employment situation of young Moroccan graduates who find themselves jobless, or forced to change their dream career path,” says the photographer.

The ongoing impact of the pandemic also led the photographer to co-found the Norseen collective, a group of 13 young Moroccan photographers who collaborate regularly on projects. “We believe that the power of ‘we’ is greater than the power of ‘I’, therefore we hope that by bringing photographers together, our individual creative voices will be amplified and the values and messages we aim to convey through our photographs will be echoed throughout the world,” he says.

As for what’s next for Rida? “At the moment, my plan is to continue working on my ongoing photography documenting my hometown and its inhabitants,” he says.

“Along with that, I’m planning to develop more documentary projects that deal with economic and social issues in my country. In the long term, my goal is to continue growing as an artist-photographer while starting to explore new ways and mediums of storytelling like videos and films.”