Cuban Portraits

I set off for Cuba to discover something. I wasn’t sure what, but simply knew that it was somewhere I’d read about for years, and had always wanted to visit. I had heard of a small group of photographers going, along with art enthusiasts and a bona-fide Cuban Art dealer, and it sounded like a great group to be a part of for many reasons. First, it would be nice to travel with a group…and if said group was comprised of photographers, then I wouldn’t be the only one slowing things down to take pictures. Secondly, I knew that it would be a fun group, and that we’d enjoy sharing stories and insight into one and other’s lives, businesses, and photography techniques. Thirdly, I knew that a visa was paramount to be able to enter Cuba correctly, so I signed on. Seventeen years ago, I was signed up for a trip with Belmont to visit Cuba with my class on Cuban History, but our visas had fallen through. So it was go-time!

Lindsey was so encouraging, and amazingly generous to stay home with the kids and enabled me to go on this trip. I’m so glad I did. I packed my bags with about 40 rolls of 120 and 220 size Kodak film, and a Hasselblad 203fe, freshly minted from eBay, along with two lenses: the Zeiss 110mm f2.0, and an 80mm f2.8.

Cuba was everything I had been told, everything I had imagined, and much more. I live in the South. People are nice. So I get it. I’m accustomed to meeting “nice” people. Just walking by on the street, starting up a conversation, or even answering a question was meaningful enough to have numerous people invite me into their home, or to hear them play music, etc. The first man pictured was at a cafe next to my group. As I walked past, we exchanged pleasantries, and I noticed that he had a deep, and soulful voice. It turns out he was the “Voice of Radio Cuba” and he recited a poem for me he had written about love. If only my audio recorder had been quicker….it was quite moving.

There are countless more stories to tell, and all of them reflect a people who are proud of their heritage, incredibly intelligent, diverse, and have a joy that is completely unrelated to material possessions. I know that these things sound like grand generalizations, but the certainly rang true for my experience. There are many more photographs to come, with bold and brazen colors, and everything stereotypical one could expect. But first: here are some of the amazing people I met!



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