Here is a small glimpse into my journey to Cuba.
As an artist, I default to black and white photos. In Cuba, though, I took more color pictures so I could capture the understated nuances. I wanted the viewer to see the ‘real’ story. The subtle color variations in the architecture, the greens, and browns of nature. The way the shadows play with the light. The hues of the sky balanced against the sheen of the water.
I explored both the city and the country, taking pictures in Havanas streets, a boxing gym and touring a tobacco plantation outside the city limits. Both fascinating and both with a different feel. One of the first things I noticed in the city was the sense of constant motion – bike taxis, crowds of people, children playing in the street, street vendors selling onions and garlic. But amidst this action, pockets of calm. A group of men gathered under the hood of a car. A fisherman using a simple string and hook to catch dinner. The old man sitting outside his home, keeping watch over the neighborhood. The woman in the meat market bantering with the butcher about what she’d choose to make for dinner that night. Laundry drying on lines stretched between the wrought iron patios perched above the crowded streets.
The tobacco plantation was a much slower feel. This was a side of Cuba I hadn’t really considered – harvesting and rolling the tobacco leaves, the subtle and varied greens. This Cuba was no less interesting or breathtaking, just a slice I hadn’t anticipated.
It’s definitely different than America, and yet not so different. Classic American cars drive the streets. But they’re hot pink, bright green and cherry red – not your typical “American” colors. People sit outside and watch the world go by just like in America. But rarely do you see anyone in Cuba staring at their cell phones or other electronic devices.
Plantación de Tabaco
I visited a tobacco plantation near Vinales Cuba. 4 am we left on horseback into the mountains. As the sun rose up I had a moment of clarity a purpose. With no distraction, I was able to create images to document what a hardworking farmer does day to day. Remember there is no large John Deere equipment.
These men and women used primitive methods. Cows and much more than elbow grease. It was intriguing to learn the tobacco process. And also how the government works with farmers.