As part of my photography tour with Creative Escapes, we spent a few days outside of La Habana to experience the “real” Cuba. One place we had to see was Viñales (in Pinar del Rio), the heart of rural Cuba, a UNESCO world heritage site and home to many tobacco farms. What makes Viñales different to the rest of the country is the fact that it is a valley with rolling hills and mountains whereas the rest of Cuba, as you will notice when flying in, is pretty flat and underdeveloped. The rolling hills punctuate the landscape, making for a dramatic landscape photograph. Although Cuba is known for its tobacco, being the best in the world, we also saw plenty of livestock, bananas and even a coffee plantation. This was a great location to try out all sorts of photography genres ranging from landscape, to documentary to portrait. Rural life outside of many big cities around the world tends to be more simplistic but here, you really notice the absence of modern machinery or lots of cars and it seems that the basic traditional agricultural techniques including travelling by horse and cart are still the norm.
I definitely made the right decision to combine Mexico and Cuba into one holiday as the flight from Cancun, Mexico to La Habana, Cuba was literally 55 minutes! I would be spending the next 10 days traveling round Cuba with Creative Escapes for a photography tour so our itinerary would be based with photography in mind, rather than the usual tourist points of interest. We would be trying our hand at lots of different genres including portraits, documentary and black and white, with the aim of determining our own individual style. I had done quite a few half day/day courses in London so felt I knew the basics of my camera, semi-auto shooting and composition but I felt ready to take my hobby to the next level. I had thought about combining my love of travel and photography into a trip like this for a while but there was only one place I really wanted to do this and that was Cuba. As relations have been easing between Cuba and the USA, I also felt that now was the time to go before it changed and “the Americans ruined it” (from the mouth of an American tourist!).