19 reasons why I love to photograph Cuba

“Ask yourself what is really important. Have the wisdom and the courage to build your life around your answer.”  Lee Jampolsky

Today I want to share some of my thoughts as well as some cool quotes I’ve collected that capture why Havana and the country of Cuba is one of my favourite places to photograph.

For me Cuba ignites one of the principles that guides me so much now, especially as I get older and move away from accumulating things.

I work instead to have experiences that will deepen my connection to life. That will speak to my soul, and make me feel more alive.

The energy of Havana, the beauty of the country, help me drink in all that life has to offer us. To live in the moment, to celebrate what life is. And that makes me want to create!

As soon as you land in Havana you find incredible things to photograph. The colours of the buildings, the architecture, the light – which in January is beautiful all day – combined with the friendliness of the people, mean you’ll probably be snapping photos in the taxi from the airport.

So here are 19 reasons why I think Cuba will blow your creative mind. Some are thoughts from others who know and love Cuba, and some are my thoughts.

“Don’t come here with a long list of questions. Just arrive with an open mind and prepare for a long, slow seduction.” Lonely Planet

“In Cuba and specifically in Havana there’s a sort of energy that turns every situation into something unexpected.” Fernando Perez

“Havana still looks like you want it to look. Or maybe just how I want it to look. What was once one of the wealthiest cities in Latin America, left to the elements, left to collapse, was frozen gloriously in time. In fits and starts Cuba is changing.” Anthony Bourdain

“No one could have invented Havana. It’s too audacious, too contradictory, and – despite 50 years of withering neglect – too damned beautiful.” Lonely Planet

“However you feel about the government, however you feel about the last 55 years, there aren’t any places in the world that look like this. I mean, it’s utterly enchanting.” Anthony Bourdain

I love the fantastic, inventive street art that you might find on a crumbling colonial building, in a square filled with football-playing kids or outside a bar that is vibrating with the unmistakable beat of Cuban music.

“As an American, Cuba is one of those places that’s forbidden…and magical.” Rebecca Whistle

“Havana seduces the visitor with her good looks, her steamy weather, chrome-festooned American cars, zesty cocktails, pretty buildings, heart-stopping Afro-Cuban beats and hip-swivelling, story-telling, garrulous locals. With her bedrock layered with Spanish empire treasure, slave-fuelled sugar wealth and a heavy top coating of communism, Havana is simply one of the world’s most exciting, confusing and compelling capitals.” Time Out

“Every day above earth is a good day.” From The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, written in Cuba

“The beautiful Cuban capital is finally coming in from the cold … a wave of optimism and creativity is unleashed.”Lydia Bell

The complexity….Cuba is not an easy place, this is definitely not Disney World! It’s not straightforward and easy to understand. It has its own logic, its own life. And part of what makes it a magical place is because you are thrown into the unknown.

Delicious fruits &veggies….I had some of the best fruit and vegetables I’ve ever eaten, in Cuba, which surprised me no end! There are daily markets where people bring the foods they grow in municipal gardens or from the local farms.

“Artists and photographers with international acclaim (stellar painters such as Roberto Diago, Yoan Capote, Kcho and Roberto Fabelo) are like rock stars in Cuba, where successful creativity is still ahead of entrepreneurship in the bank balance stakes.” The Guardian

Local Artists….I loved meeting local artists, musicians and creatives as they are changing the perceptions of their country, and produce fabulous art.

“Havana is an enchanting and captivating city, with the twists and turns of its compelling history and rich culture laid bare in the surprising diversity of its architecture and kaleidoscope of citizens.” Rough Guides

“Cubans are incredibly resourceful…they use everything until its last breath.”

The music…. is wonderful. It sounds clichéd but it’s true that there is live music and dancing everywhere, out on the streets, in the dark rum-filled bars and spilling out of clubs. The music scene is infectious.

The Paladares – the local restaurants in people’s houses. One of the best meals we had on our last workshop was a simply cooked roast chicken with an array of fresh salad that was made for us by our friend Carmen in her home. Very cool experience.

“Havana is one of the great cities of the world, sublimely tawdry yet stubbornly graceful, like tarnished chrome – a city, as a young Winston Churchill once wrote, where ‘anything might happen.’ ” Jonathan Miles

I hope those were some tantalising ideas for you.

If you’re planning a trip to Cuba, or would like to join us on a photo workshop. I want to tell you – Cuba is the photographic adventure of a lifetime!

It’s everything you’ve heard, and then some.

My next next photography adventure will be running this coming January 2020.

On this workshop I will:

Help you overcome any fear of photographing strangers (and there are tonnes of amazing street photography opportunities in Havana at all times of the day.)

Use my friends and local contacts to immediately make you feel welcome and looked after.

I help you avoid the obvious – and dive into the local, the intriguing and the most interesting and exciting places within the city.

Show you the great iconic views as well as areas off the beaten path, and into the back streets of the city.

We will shoot both the dawn and the evening blue hours. And take our shooting into the night. Havana is the best low light city I have ever been to.

Most of all I want to help you develop your personal vision of Havana – to create photos that you will be proud of.

I only take small groups so that I can give you lots of personalised teaching. I want to make sure you come back with a stunning portfolio that will be enchanting for your friends and family.

My team and I will also help you smoothly journey through the country, as Cuba can be a challenging place as a traveller.

And some of these are the same challenges the Cuban people face everyday of their lives – a lack of infrastructure, spotty public transport, bad internet (not so bad when you can find it!)

Bring your camera and your spirit to Cuba!

What I promise for this workshop is that having filled your time with such beauty, adventure and creation, you return completely refreshed and energised for your life. With new ideas and new ways of thinking. And a beautiful portfolio to boot!

Have an awesome day and, of course, any questions just let me know.

Anthony and Diana