Visiting Cuba as a photographer

Posted: 27-Jun-16 08:57

Although there are currently a number of restrictions placed on US tourists visiting Cuba, there are also a lot of everyday hobbies and activities that fall under the remit of approved "people-to-people" travel. One such example is photography, and in a recent blog for photofocus.com, Susan Kanfer shared her thoughts on the preparations you need to make to enjoy a perfect view of the country...

Visiting Cuba as a photographer

For Americans, visiting Cuba is quite unlike travelling anywhere else in the world. For one, your trip must fall within the definitions of one of several pre-approved categories – with “people-to-people” educational visits far and away the broadest option available for those who wish to see the country. Nevertheless, important changes could be happening soon.

In a recent blog for photofocus.com, photographer Susan Kanfer explained all of the preparations you need to make ahead of capturing the sights of the island through a lens, but before that, she shared several general tips that will help US tourists get the most out of their Cuban experience.

First and foremost, you need to make sure your paperwork is in order. This includes everything from obtaining a tourist visa to purchasing Cuban medical insurance, and these forms can usually be obtained on your flight. Secondly, you have to consider that US credit cards are not accepted in the country, so you’ll need to exchange your money for CUCs. This can sometimes incur a conversion fee of up to 13% for USD, so many American visitors prefer to take Euros or Canadian dollars instead.

Getting snap happy

Once you’ve actually made it to Cuba with these basic preparations in order, you’ll need to consider what type of photographs you’re looking to take. If you’re a street photographer, make sure that your tour guide is familiar with the locals as this can open doors – quite literally – into people’s homes and allow you to get more intimate pictures. If you’re there for landscapes or architecture, however, you’ll benefit more from a guide who knows the perfect spots for sunrises and sunsets.

In terms of equipment, although WiFi is available in some hotels, you’ll need to purchase special WiFi cards to use it. These typically grant one hour of internet time, so Kanfer recommends stocking up so you don’t run out while uploading your photos. Similarly, the photographer advises that you bring a universal power strip and back-up batteries, as hotel rooms tend to have insufficient outlets.

Finally, despite all her equipment, Kanfer recommends travelling light to Cuba. You’ll frequently find that you have to carry both your luggage and your photography gear over uneven cobble stones and the lifts in hotels are also often out of order, so try to ensure that your equipment is as portable as possible. By preparing for all these eventualities before you set out, you’ll have a much easier time capturing the beauty of Cuba; and maybe you’ll even be able to start a photo blog of your own soon!


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