Two years ago, I took a trip to Cuba. As I saw the images show up in my Facebook memories this week I realized that other than posting a few shots on Facebook I haven’t really shared many images from that trip. I always meant to do a blog post but never got around to it. So here it is!
This trip was not just a vacation to an all-inclusive resort. Yeah, there were lots of Pina Coladas and hanging out on the beach. But it was also life changing for me in many ways.
Becoming a street photographer
This trip was a photography workshop with Greg Johnson (The Tornado Hunter). I had admired him for a few years as I followed along with his storm chasing. I found out that he was offering this workshop and thought it would be cool to go. I didn’t know my husband would get tickets for us as a birthday gift!
Although I was no beginner photographer, I was eager to step outside of my comfort zone and try new things. I sure got to do that!
While on the resort we learned the basics of photography and spent time learning and practicing. Greg is an awesome teacher and makes it super easy to learn (although we do disagree on some things haha).
But it was when we left the resort that I learned the most, and not just about photography.
We took two day trips, one to a small town called Cardenas and then to Havana, Cuba’s capital city. We didn’t go to either place to be tourists. Instead, we wanted to immerse ourselves in the community and see, through our cameras, how the people of Cuba really live.
We wandered the streets with our guide, who let us in on his life and let us explore in our own way. We saw run down homes, stray dogs and cats, school children dressed in uniforms, people hard at work. They drive old cars, ride bicycles and horse drawn buggies. They didn’t have much. It made us appreciate our life and all that we have.
But we also saw a community, vibrant colours and culture everywhere. There was a street in Cardenas that was covered in art from the ground to the roofs of the buildings. It was a place for children to learn about beauty and create for themselves. I’ve never seen anything like it. There was always music playing or being played somewhere. People were happy despite their struggles.
It made me nervous to take pictures of the people, like I would be exposing them. But instead I am telling their story through images. I believe it helps us to see real life outside our own walls.
In the fall of 2017 Cuba was hit by Hurricane Irma. So much of it was destroyed, but we didn’t see because media coverage was very limited there. I often think about the small town of Cardenas and all the people of Cuba. I wonder what it is like there now, and I can only hope that they made it through ok.
This is the story of my visit to Cuba, and just some of my favourite images – including some I haven’t shared before. Yes there are a lot, but its worth looking through them to see how these people live. (Images are in no particular order).