Joseph Ouechen photographer
Photos: Joseph Ouechen
Culture

Photos of Moroccan Punks and Metalheads Keeping the Scene Alive

Many in the country consider metal fans to be "devil worshippers". They're also photographer Joseph Ouechen's favourite subjects.
13 March 2020, 9:00am

This article originally appeared on VICE Arabia.

Joseph Ouechen, 36, is a self-taught photographer from Casablanca, Morocco. After starting a fashion photography blog that highlighted the work of other artists in 2010, he later bought a camera and started his own photography career in 2013.

Since then, he’s become one of the country’s best-known street photographers. He has a special focus on Moroccan metal music fans – who are still regarded by some in the country as “devil worshippers”. I spoke to Joseph about his work.

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Photographer Joseph Ouechen. All photos provided by him.

VICE: Was starting out as a photographer difficult, especially given you didn’t study it at schoo**l?** Joseph Ouechen: I was born in Sidi Moumen, a poor area in Casablanca and was expelled in my first year of high school because I wasn’t good at school and didn’t like studying. I prefer learning things on my own, so I started teaching myself about photography on the internet.

Why were you interested in capturing Morocco’s metal scene?
The idea came to me in 2003, when a metal band was arrested at L'Boulevard festival in Casablanca. They were accused of being “devil worshippers”. None of them were devil worshippers, of course – they just played metal. After that I started going to metal festivals to take photos and get to know more about the genre, which is still not widely spread in Morocco. I like their style, the symbols and words on their clothes, their hair and their accessories.

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What about your other project, “On the Streets”?
It's an ongoing project that explores and documents daily modern life in Morocco. It seeks to defy stereotypes about Moroccan society.

Do you think there’s such thing as a “bad” photograph?
In my opinion, a bad photograph is an un-spontaneous photograph. In 2013, I went to Egypt for a project documenting the protests [against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi] in Tahrir Square.That was one of my first experiences as a photojournalist. I didn’t have the skills; I would ask people to pose for me. Eventually, I realised it the wrong way to go about it and events like that need to be captured candidly. A moment needs to be captured, not created.

See more of Joseph Ouechen's work below:

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From: "On the Streets"

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From: "On the Streets"

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From: "On the Streets"

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From: "On the Streets"

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From: "On the Streets"