Andy Hughes: Berber Tea

The Image


Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Time / Date:
11:16am / September 12, 2015

The Technical

Camera Body: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G AF-S

Camera Settings:

Shutter Speed: 1/125s
Aperture: f/5.6
ISO: 1000
Focal Length: 40mm

The Story


Morocco has always been a country that has fascinated me because of its history and culture. The heart is Marrakech and it beats like no other, one of the craziest places I’ve ever been to. In Marrakech everything happens at once without any laws, rules or regulations, a chaotic harmony of sorts.

The Scene: 

We were welcomed into a traditional Berber family home as part of a trip around the Atlas Mountains. In Morocco their way of showing hospitality is to share tea & bread and is an integral part of their culture and way of life. We were shown around the home to begin with, we came across the mother baking bread, we were then led into the main sitting room where we were welcomed to sit down for ‘Berber Whisky’ which is their tea. Morocco is an Islamic country so you’re hard pressed to find alcohol since it’s part of the religion not to drink. However, tea is extremely important, it is a sign of both hospitality and medicinal purposes.

Moroccans drink it up to twelve times a day!


I shot the image with a Nikon D800 with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens which is a great team of camera and lens for travel photography, I always try to capture portraits at least at f/5.6 in order to get enough sharpness especially in the daytime. I was glad not have to move down a stop as we were indoors. It would of been great to go in with a smaller camera as sometimes SLR’s can be quite imposing especially when trying to capture reportage style shots.

Making the Shot:

The tea making is a very spiritual process and takes around half an hour to brew. During the process the mother raises the pot a number of times to help with the brewing process, I knew this was the moment I wanted to capture as I didn’t want the photo to look ‘staged.’

The only light available was the natural light pouring in from the window ( left, out of shot) It wasn’t too harsh so I didn’t need to think too much about where to position myself as she was well lit.

Editing & Processing:

I use the latest Lightroom (CC) Software for all my RAW image processing, I find it great for speed, especially during my day to day editorial and commercial shoots. Its power though is in the small adjustments you can make, especially with the highlights bar, this shot has minimal processing as I wanted to keep the colours as real as I could, very much like a photojournalist would. This helps in keeping the viewer attached to the subject in hand and not on other elements within the shot which I feel is really important.

Looking Back:

I want to head back over again soon to look at shooting a whole project out there, whether it be looking into Berber ways of life more thoroughly or portraits of the Souks and the craftsmen and women.


Whenever I visit a new country whether for work or just for a holiday, I always investigate its history, culture and ways of life. I try to visit countries or cities I’d like to photograph and try to pick out a few key elements I’d like to capture during my stay. Hopefully I’ll be heading back this year as I’d really like to focus on the Souks ( Maze or Market Stalls) and their owners.


I’m inspired everyday, whether it be seeing someones work on Instagram or just day to day life. The two biggest inspirations I had when looking to get into music photography were the legends that are Roger Sargent & Danny North, they are a constant source of inspiration. I’m an ideas person, I studied a fine art photography course at university which enabled me to be free and unconstrained. I’m looking to produce more personal work soon and spend time to plan, craft and shoot to get the best results.

NME has such a fantastic team that we all thrive off each others work and that really makes you up your game. I’m always looking to better my last shot whether it be a live music shot or a portrait for a press campaign.

I’m always setting myself goals. The day I’m not inspired is the day I put down my camera for good.


About the Photographer

Andy Hughes is primarily a music and portrait photographer based in the UK. Shooting commissions at home and abroad for publications such as NME Magazine and International labels. When I do get 5 minutes at home I’m busy planning my next shoot or trip away to go explore somewhere new.

Twitter: @AndyHPhoto
Instagram: @andyhphoto

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