Life & Culture

Photos of Morocco’s Surf Scene at Sunset

Vincent Le Chapelain turns his lens on the Moroccan coast for a new photo series titled Taghazout

  • TextTed Stansfield

Vincent Le Chapelain trained in fashion design, but he’s always surfed, and loves Morocco. He picked up a camera quite late – around two years ago now – and has since used it to combine his two passions, photographing Morocco’s surf scene. What Le Chapelain, who is originally from France but now lives in London, was most interested in is how the north African nation has developed its own surfing culture – one that’s distinct from its American or European counterparts and reflects the country’s own approach to the sport. He was also drawn to the way surfing brings people together; people from all walks of life and from all over the world.

This resulted in a series – seen for the first time here – which Le Chapelain has titled Taghazout after the fishing village he took most of his photographs in. This series will be going on display at the Studio 1.1 gallery on Redchurch Street next month and, ahead of this exhibition, the photographer tells the story of Taghazout; how these beautiful images, shot in the warm light of the Moroccan sunset, came to be.

“Since I was ten, I’ve always spent my summers surfing. I’ve been to Morocco five or six times and really connect to the place. I wanted to go back and record what was there because it’s changing so rapidly.

I was interested in [photographing] people surfing because, especially when you take pictures at the end of the day, the light is beautiful and everyone is just having a good time in the water. Whether they’re Moroccan, French or American, they all have a smile on their face. They occupy the same place physically, but mentally too, which I think is quite interesting.

Surfing has a very Californian heritage, particularly in terms of the way you look. The whole image is very Americanised. And yet, what’s different in Morocco is how they’re keeping their own culture. They have their traditions: after surfing they won’t have a glass of beer, but a cup of tea instead; they will go to the mosque and just get on with their day. I think it’s interesting to see how surfing has been integrated into their everyday lives.

I only shot at the end of the day because the light is very special then. As you can see in the pictures, the water turns this petrol-like colour. And then there’s people’s skin – they’ve usually spent about two hours in the water, so their skin is slightly red from sunburn. I think there is something amazing about all of these colours coming together.”

Taghazout will be at Studio 1.1 from October 3. This series was created in partnership with WAX London.

@vincent_le_chapelain