New interview with the man behind the never-before-seen Cuba

Posted: 02-Oct-15 15:20

The man with the privilege of photographing a perspective of Cuba never seen before has recently given an interview to OnCuba in which he gave further details of his amazing feat and daunting challenge, negotiating with the government and spending months that turned into years trying to get approval to film and photograph Cuba from the air. He finally achieved his ultimate goal, not without difficulty and published a book with the stunning images: Unseen Cuba.

New interview with the man behind the never-before-seen Cuba

We featured a blog about him in which we interviewed him, he kindly let us use his jaw-dropping aerial photographs of Cuba and now he gives yet another interview to further enlighten the world about his success and incredible achievement in what at the beginning seemed an impossible quest.

Jumping through many hoops and hurdles to obtain approval from the initially unresponsive Cuban government, Lithuanian photographer Marius Jovaisa became an overnight internet star when he finally published his book with never-before-seen images of Cuba taken from the sky.

OnCuba recently interviewed him via an internet chat in which he shed more light about his unprecedented Cuban adventure.

“I’ve always liked adrenalin-fuelled activities. I’ve practiced paragliding, skydiving, bungee-jumping, wakeboarding, snowboarding and surfing. That’s how I came to be interested in aerial photography 12 years ago, because it combined my taste for heights with my passion for photography”

In 2006 Jovaisa published its first collection based on his home country: "Unseen Lithuania" which instantly became a bestseller, followed by a successful international experience in Belize published two years later; "Heavenly Belize".

Swimming in unknown waters

Jovaise first arrived in Cuba in 2010 and from that trip he remembers that the Cubans he contacted thought it a miracle that anyone – whether local or foreign – would be allowed permission to what he wanted to do: fly over the island at low altitudes to make photographs.

“After publishing my first two books I thought of what country would be next. I noticed no one had done anything similar in Cuba, due to the political barriers and the technical difficulties, and I thought it would be great to become the first to achieve something like that in the world.

"There was also the fact that Cuba is famous all around the globe and I knew the book would spark interest in many countries”

After five long years of endless meetings, several letters, ongoing requests, numerous fallbacks, stifling moments, long waits and uncertainty he finally achieved his ultimate goal, albeit with some restrictions and limitations.

“I kept coming back to Cuba, visiting as many ministries, institutions, foundations and art organisations as possible.

"I organised seminars and presentations, I even did an exhibition to showcase my aerial photographs of Lithuania in a Havana gallery. I donated dozens of my previous books, and I finally convinced the Culture Ministry to back my project and become its official supervisor.”

The final victory

In June 2012 Marius managed to take off on the first testing flight, from Colon to Matanzas, where he made pictures from the passenger seat behind the pilot’s. This proved difficult because, as he explais, the cables and wings interfered in the shots, but after lots of practice he managed to do it.

“I had over 100 hours of experience with these planes in Hawaii, Belize, Australia, Lithuania and Italy, among others”

He was handed a map that showed the areas he was allowed to fly over and make photos. The plan didn’t include any city in the country so he had to appeal and insist on his interest of flying at least over Santiago de Cuba.

“They told me not to even dream about flying over Havana, but I convinced them in the end. They not only gave me permission but I didn’t even have to use a helicopter! They let me fly over a city of 2 million inhabitants in my light craft. That’d hadn’t been possible anywhere else on the planet!”

The rest, as they say it's history, as his book "Unseen Cuba" proved a massive instant success the likes of which there's nothing in the world.


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