A guide to taking photographs in Cuba

Posted: 21-Jun-16 09:53

Enchanted by the life moments captured on a recent trip to Cuba, a photographer for Moment lenses recently published a guide detailing the best practices for taking sensational photographs of your own in the country. With a series of pictures and explanations, the article details how to plan for an inspirational trip to the island, plus how to capture the country's spirit from behind the lens.

A guide to taking photographs in Cuba

As the sites and spirit of Cuba come to life for new travellers to the country, one photographer is using a camera lens to showcase the country’s rich culture. Published recently on the Moment lens website, a company that sells photography tools, emerges a guide to seeing and capturing the unique beauty of Cuba. Complete with a series of photographs and advice, the article instructs on everything from what to pack to how to capture the country’s most inspirational shots.

Reflecting upon a four-day photographic expedition to the island, the author showcases a number of photographs of locals going about their daily lives, encircled by rural and urban surroundings of this diverse countryside. From a pedicab driver breezing by a roadside fruit stand to aging homes and vintage American automobiles, there appears no lack of inspiration in how to document the country.

In showing shots of locals gathered along the water’s edge plus a game table set up amidst parked cars and bicycles, the photographer contrasts the diverseness of the island. While one picture shows a cat casually wandering through a local barbershop another shows a series of aging residential buildings in disrepair, followed up by towering columns and the beautiful architectural designs of what can only be described as a museum-quality structure.

Plan Ahead

In order to be able to satisfy all of your desired shots and more, the most important recommendation is to plan ahead to avoid becoming overwhelmed with the choices. While planning out somewhat of an itinerary, it’s also recommended to think about the interesting photographs you may want to take along the way.

With so much to be explored, and a lot of walking likely involved, it’s also suggested that you only pack light, necessary photography gear. The author points to the ultra minimalist Jens Lennartsson’s example of a mobile studio as the model of what to pack before going to Cuba.

Let your camera lead

While planning your trip you may already have an idea of what you want to capture, it’s suggested that sometimes the best plan of all is to let your camera lead the way. This is why walking is such a great idea, a way for you uncover interesting sites and people as you go.

Photographing Cuban people

As for photographing locals, it’s important to gain trust before you start clicking away. While most people encountered in this trip were happy to have their photograph taken it creates a more private narrative if you take the time to meet your subject on personal terms.

Photographing life

With history apparent on every street corner, the photographer found it challenging to capture the Cuba of today. Admitting to looking for inspiration from things like Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown and Travel & Leisure beforehand, the author went into the trip understanding it was important to seek out the stories of places and people that weren’t always so evident.

Recommended locations

The author clearly, though, had some favorite locations in mind to suggest to fellow travellers. These included the book market at Plaza de Armas for lively musicians plus El Malecon for striking up a conversation with locals. Other recommended sites included the side streets of Obispo Street in Old Havana, away from the tourists, plus the energetic Cuban food market of Almacenes de San Jose on the Port of Havana. This particular location brought back fond family memories to the author.

Other suggestions

While traveling throughout Cuba, it was also suggested that you hide your camera when doing things like hailing a cab. The advice wasn’t for safety but rather because the author found having a camera out sometimes netted a higher quote from cab drivers. Even if your camera is only your smart-phone the photographer says it will still stick out in a country where cell phones are mostly still flip-phones.

Overall, the photographer notes that four days in Cuba simply was not enough to tell a complete story. While Havana was a favorite for shooting photographs, this storyteller admits the history, sites and people of the entire country will never be forgotten.


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