GALLERY: Morocco As You've Never Seen It Before

Jason Lock

by on

Updated 155d ago

A trip to the land of never-ending rights is essential surf induction for any European surfer – and for most people, acts as their first taste of leg-burning points in world class waves.

Morocco's rise to prominence isn't a new thing, a few months ago, we explored the stories and myths of the first surfers in the north African country, which you can read about here.

Live cam: Anchor Point

It is Moroccos' accessibility, humid climate and warm waters that make it the ideal surf locale and stable retreat from the frigid ocean of mainland Europe.

But, despite the country's myriad flawless points, it's rare to see striking imagery arise out of Morocco – and for such a popular surf location, that seems a bit weird, right? However, photogs are more interested in getting amongst it, or, busy serving the surf schools that are stationed throughout Taghazout and make up most of the surf jobs in the area. If the job is shooting pics rather than surfing, then you've got to do what you can to put food on the table, and take what's left over after the mandatory surf school second session.

Luckily, Morocco's been blessed with the works of Mariss Balodis, who knows his way around working a trigger. The images produced are unlike any we've seen out of Morocco, encapsulating a more romanticised view of the kingdom while remaining impactful, so much so, one of the pics was MSW's most double tapped image via Instagram last year.

Originally from Latvia, Maris spends his winter chasing swells in Morocco, because the Baltic rarely offers up something even semi consistent, unless you've got the time and patience to drive a hell of a lot of miles. Eventually, he translated his sharp photography skills over to surfing, adding vibrant, unique flare to his work – which is a refreshing spin on surf photography and one that focuses on the grace of the sport rather than hucking tail above lip for the umpteenth time.

Anyway, we checked in with Mariss to talk about his surf photography life, Morocco Vs Latvia and his favourite shots of all time.

Spot guide: Morocco

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get into surf photography?
Photography has been a big part of me for as long as I can remember , but surfing came a bit later, because at home in Latvia, there was no surf culture. Not that I knew of anyway.

In 2013, I went on my first surf trip to Morocco and instantly fell in love with the country as well as the sport. Since then a lot has changed in my life, mostly thanks to surfing. My passion for photography has also gradually evolved towards a unique mix of landscape and surf photography. 

Your shots have a distinct style, pastel skies over some of the best waves in Morocco – what drew you to that?
It is hard to define, but I guess my biggest influences comes from landscape photography. Normally I try to capture wide, open surroundings along with a surf scene as the main subject. As for the colour palette, well, my favourite time to shoot is golden hour and the colour palette naturally evolves from this setup. 

What is it about Morocco that makes surfing so special?
Morocco is my home away from home. I have spent more time there than anywhere else abroad, and when I’m not there I keep dreaming of going back again. What’s so special? For me it’s the unique blend of moroccan culture, the mild winter climate and of course amazing waves.. ahh, and the sunsets..

And are you a surfer yourself?
I am. Originally from Latvia. Here, the swells are mostly wind driven, with short period choppy waves. If you want to score some good surf you have to be committed to chasing waves all around the Baltic states and beyond.

It is hard work and the best chance to score is in the winter season with extremely cold water and subzero air temperatures. I’m passionate about surfing, but these conditions seem a bit too tough for me [laughs]. So I choose the easy way out and spend winter seasons somewhere warm with a lot of good waves. Like Morocco.

Every time we share one of your pics on our social channels, it goes crazy. How do you feel about the reception?
I’m thankful for the support I get and it definitely fuels my passion for photography. But I also feel that the lineups keep getting more and more crowded and sharing these beautiful pictures of empty waves ultimately helps to destroy the magic that everyone seems to be after. It’s a pretty complicated feeling.

Making it as a photographer in any capacity is hard, how do you make ends meet?
That's... a very good question. I have no answer [laughs]. I guess I'm a graphic designer by profession and photography is just my passion. For now, I'm going to keep it that way. 

Walk us through your top 5 favourite shots
1) This one is a rare capture as camels don’t graze near the ocean all that often anymore. But when they do, it makes for a perfect opportunity to capture the “exotic” Morocco vibe.

© 2020 - Mariss Balodis

2) In Morocco misty mornings and empty lines go together very well. You just need to commit yourself to be the first one out there to enjoy the view.

© 2020 - Mariss Balodis

3) There are two kinds of sunset surf sessions. One is epic, the other is breathtakingly beautiful. This one belongs to the second kind.

© 2020 - Mariss Balodis

4) “Pure stoke” - I believe most of us can relate to the feeling right here. 

© 2020 - Mariss Balodis

5) in February 2017 one of the biggest swells of the decade was rolling trough the moroccan coastline. Banana point remained unsurfed that morning. 

© 2020 - Mariss Balodis

6) Youness Douan - the master of style in his magic playground. [And MSW's most tapped image of 2019]

© 2020 - Mariss Balodis