I’ve always dreamed of Cuba. Of an island throbbing with diverse culture and life. An island caught in time. An island nation so unique and fascinating, I have spent years longing for the chance to capture it through my lens. Cuba inspires images of Caribbean waters and pristine beaches. Of rum cocktails and salsa, classic cars and cigars. The truth is I wanted to find and feel the authentic rhythm of Cuba. The real island. The one beneath the glittering turquoise surface. A country currently on the brink of permanent change, and one I wanted the chance to visit before the effects of the commercial world alter it forever. Cuba’s socio-political and economic history has left it isolated for years. The US embargo has dictated a lack of mass tourism and Americanization, leaving the island nation largely untouched by every day luxuries or conveniences considered normal and essential in the Western world.
When the opportunity arose for me to visit Cuba, I wasted no time in making travel plans and heading off with my camera to the destination whose mysterious allure had been calling me for years. While American citizens are now free to travel to Cuba, there are still no direct flights to the island. I flew through Montreal, Canada and then on to Havana. My return was much longer flying through Mexico(12 hours) due to a layover in Mexico City.
On arrival at Havana airport I was met with a heady mix of Caribbean heat and cigar smoke. A well-dressed gentleman was waiting for me holding up a sign with my name on. His composed demeanour and smart attire made me think I’d be ushered into an air -conditioned limo; instead he opened the door to an ancient Russian Lada and smiled, “Welcome to Cuba.”
I wanted my experience of Cuba to be as authentic as possible, so I avoided booking a room at one of the tourist hotels on offer and opted instead to stay locally through AirBnB. My photography is about capturing passing glimpses of life. The seemingly irrelevant and overlooked moments that speak volumes of the human experience. To achieve this, I knew I needed to witness Cuba first hand, through the eyes of its people.
Join me on this transformative experience as I document my inspired vision of Cuba, as I saw it, in raw splendor from the streets of Havana.
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