Author Hal Tretbar
All photos copyrighted Hal Tretbar
The relations between Cuba and the USA are warming. Many companies are now offering trips the visit the Communist island that up to now has been stuck in a 1950s time warp. I advise anyone interested in photographing a remarkable place to go before the gracious people are overrun by too many American visitors.
A standard itinerary starts in Havana for four days, then Cienfuegos on the coast for two days, colonial Trinidad for three days and finishes in Havana for several more days. Cuba has been a vacation destination for Canadians, Mexicans and Europeans. The Cubans have developed excellent guides, buses, and accommodations.
Of course you want to shoot some interesting cars that have been running for 50 years. But it’s the people –their lives- their interests that you want to capture with your camera.
They are interested in the fine arts with music, dance, painting, etc. Most seem to be employed by the state and live in government housing. Some small private businesses are now tolerated such as restaurants in their homes.
The best images will be of people and kids doing everyday activities. If you want a portrait they are willing to pose and move for a better background if needed. Artists don’t mind if you show them with their art. Think about how a person or scene might look in black and white.
Shoot old Havana at dusk with people relaxing in the streets. You will feel perfectly safe on any side street with interesting lighting.
If you are planning a slide show, shoot the musical groups in cafes and clubs with video. Don’t forget to visit the world renowned Tropicana Night Club with it’s fabulous music and dancing since 1939.
The countryside is just as fascinating as the cities. Our guides would stop at any interesting scene and talk to the people about a photo-op.
You will treasure the memories and images from a country in transition. Make plans to visit as soon as you can. You still can’t visit as a US tourist. You must go as part of an educational group. I went with the Grand Circle Foundation. 12 days for $4000 to $4400 depending on the time of the year. Contact them at 1-855-423-3443 or through www.oattravel.com/fct2016.
Hal Tretbar is Trip Leader for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops Travel Photographer and Writer for Sombrero Magazine and previously the Arizona Daily Star of Tucson