As a photographer who loves to travel, I crave unique places and experiences to explore with my camera. As the world becomes smaller, it becomes more difficult to find those special places that have not already been exposed by hundreds of thousands of photographers before me. I search for unique locations with beautiful scenery, warm and open people, and fascinating culture and history. In 2010, I found all of this and more in Cuba..
Cuba is only 90 miles from Florida and yet, it is worlds away. When you arrive in Cuba, you are immediately struck by the smells of tropical flowers mixed with salt air and gasoline from the American Chevy’s from the 1950s and Soviet-era Ladas. The sounds of old cars, salsa music, kids playing baseball in the streets, and their mothers yelling after them fill your ears. The heat from the Caribbean sun warms your skin as you notice the incredible light bouncing off of the stunningly beautiful Spanish and French colonial-era walls coated with layers of peeling paint and years of incredible history. Cuba radiates creative inspiration and you will want to pick your camera up and start making photographs right away. It truly is a photographer’s paradise
The most incredible thing about visiting Cuba is that you actually can pick up your camera and start making photographs as soon as you step out of the airport. Cubans are so open and friendly, that engaging them for photos is as easy as walking down the street. In Cuba, everyone is in the streets, in their doorways, or out on their balconies. Cubans are genuinely curious about the United States; as curious as we are about Cuba. This mutual interest opens doors for us as photographers. Being invited into their houses and shops is common and gives us more than mere glimpses of how Cubans live and work. They don’t mind if you photograph in their houses, their places of business, their classrooms, farms, bars, or during their dance recitals and musical performances. There are few places in the world where this kind of access is possible. This openness is what I seek as a traveler and as a photographer. I am free to make the photographs that I want to make, to create the images that make others envious and that help me to tell the story of an incredible and unique place. When you visit, your experiences in Cuba will shape your photography in ways you can never imagine.
I have since returned to Cuba and the changes between the first visit and the second were quite dramatic. As the world opens to Cuba, Cuba adapts and modernizes. The changes are energizing, and the old Cuba is slowly disappearing. That is why I am excited to return in October as an instructor with Incredible Travel Photos. This is the most exciting and important time to visit Cuba. The tropical beauty and charm of old Cuba is still evident while the dynamic changes of a modern Cuba are rushing in the most Cuban way possible, with open arms and set to a modern salsa beat.