Gathering Cuban photographers all over the world

Away from the Tourist Areas

A foreign photographer’s love for shooting in Cuba
Photo by Phil Gaudio-monte

For many years I had a strong interest in Cuba and hoped one day to visit the Island nation so close to the United States where I live.  Today my interest and passion for Cuba and the Cuban people has only strengthened.  My first opportunity to travel to Cuba was in December of 2017 and I since have returned four times, my last visit being in 2022.  I have been fortunate during my visits to have forged several strong friendships in Cuba and through these friends I have gained much insight and understanding of the culture and daily hardships the Cuban people face each day.

Upon arriving in “Old Havana” in 2017, as many photographers, my photographic senses were enlightened as never before.  Sure, I allowed myself to indulge those senses while making photos of the old American cars, the color and architecture of the buildings, the people and the beautiful Malecón.  After several hours of walking the streets of Old Havana, enjoying some great Cuban cuisine, listening to the soulful Latin rhythms while sipping a few Mojitos, it was time to venture away from the tourist areas where I discovered Central Havana.

It’s here in Central Havana where the mystique and nostalgia of what felt as though I had stepped into the past soon began to fade.  I walked across the “Paseo del Prado” and immediately saw the the contrasting differences in the architecture, the people and life on the streets.  I suddenly went from “tourist mode” to photographer/documentary mode realizing and beginning to experience the heart and soul of this special and unique city and country.  

As I began interacting with local Cubans (although sadly my Spanish skills are very poor) and  I was struck by the friendliness and welcoming nature of the Cuban people.  I had never in my travels felt so comfortable in a foreign country as I felt and continue to feel in Cuba.  During the next four visits to Cuba I began a friendship with four Cuban guides who were instrumental in helping me navigate and counsel me on gaining an understanding to some extent, the Cuba n culture.  This was a help to me since all but one trip was on my own and I was free to explore, talk to people and travel to Trinidad and Cienfuegos making photographs along the way. 

My travels to Cuba, experiencing so many wonderful Cuban people through conversation and photography have been life changing in many ways, allowing me to appreciate and examine my life in a deeper sense.

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