Several people expressed curiosity about the story behind Guillem Lopez’s visually beautiful Fossil Workers essay. How did the concept occur to him, how did he gain access to the workers, over what time period did he photographic the workers, etc. Here are some answers.
In 2010, Guillem was traveling in Morocco and stopped in the small city of Rissani en route to desert of Merzouga. He came across a cloud of dust while walking down a street in Rissani. Led by curiosity, he discovered the dust came from workers polishing what appeared to be rocks. Those rocks turned out to be fossils dug out of the ground in Morocco’s desert and transported to the workshops to be transformed into beautiful artisan crafts. Although he took some pictures then, constraints at that time forced
Guillem to move on and forego photographing the story the fossil workers could share.
However in late 2011, remembering the potential of the story, Guillem began researching the possibility of returning to Morocco to produce some more in-depth images of the fossil workers and their crafts as a personal challenge and project. Guillem had meet Brahim Mezzane, the manager of the fossil workshop, during that last visit to Rissani. Brahim’s family owned the fossil workshop and he was able to give Guillem the access needed to produce a photo essay that conveyed the artisan process and results of the fossil workers.
From his previous visit Guillem knew many Moroccans are not always willing to be photographed, however, he had sent the workshop several of the images he had made during his previous visit and the workers were more receptive to being photographed after seeing the results. Still, Guillem spent more than a week further convincing and gaining the trust of the fossil workers until they were comfortable with him and his camera. He produced his essay from images taken during that second visit to Rissani. Guillem is proud to now call Brahim and these fossil workers his friends and says that he learned amazing things about the Berber culture and traditions, the concept of hospitality being the most important.
Guillem Lopez is a travel & editorial photographer based in Barcelona. For more than a decade, he has traveled the world with his camera and his images have been published worldwide. Over time and with experience Guillem has learned that he is passionate about meeting people and sharing their stories. Further Guillem says that he discovered such stories typically express a message that is both simple and powerful.
You can see more of Guillem’s work at guillemlopez.com