My trip to Cuba in May 2016 was the turning point in my photography, largely because I had chosen to attempt to take my hobby to the next level by booking a photography holiday with Creative Escapes. 11 days of traveling with a pro-photographer, hands on tuition as well as learning about the different styles of photography pushed me to go beyond the usual cliché travel snaps to try and capture the essence of the country instead. I had always wanted to do this in Cuba – there is no greater place on earth to shoot with the colours, sun, music, crumbling facades, retro cars, (retro everything) and amazing people, all offering photo opportunities at every corner. Most of all, I wanted to see Cuba before everything changed and it opened up to the world, especially the Americans. One week after my trip, in fact, the first cruise ship from the USA since the severance of trade relations started, arrived in Cuba!
I have been fortunate enough to have traveled a lot in Latin America and while all countries are unified with a certain Latin culture, Cuba felt truly unique, even within the region. For a little Caribbean Island, with a population the size of London, it is quite amazing how strong a cultural influance Cuba has, especially in music. The best part of Cuba for me was seeing everyday life and how things are different (or not) to what I know as my everyday. With that in mind, comes this collection of photos of The Real Cuba.
This is my favourite shot from the trip, and my best photo to date (even being selected as a staff pick by Creative Escapes! You know you are in Cuba when you see your first classic fifties car, and even though they are everywhere, it is impossible to tire of them. There is no greater sign of the US embargo than these giant gas guzzlers still being driven around (with no seat belts or carbon emission limits!) We were on our way out of Havana when I spotted this carwash and I asked our driver to stop and turn around. What I loved was the fact that this could be a carwash anywhere in the world but yet this image and the classic car screams Cuba.
So, you want to go to Cuba? Join the queue! Cuba is without doubt the hot travel destination for 2016, not just as a unique jewel in the Caribbean but because everyone wants to “see it before it changes”. Developments are looming following the thawing of relations with the USA, resulting in many non-US travelers keen to get to the island before the Americans (and Starbucks and McDonalds etc.) do. Having recently returned from my first trip there, I suggest that it is not a destination to just show up and travel; not only is the lack of infrastructure unable to cope with rising tourist demand but also because it is simply not internet-ready to enable you to just turn up and figure things out from there.
If you are a first-timer in Cuba, do your research first! Cuba is everything you dream of from the big fifties colourful cars, music on every corner and cigars, to Che Guevara murals and so much more you haven’t yet discovered. Here are my top 5 tips to prepare you for your first island visit. Continue reading →
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!).