Photographing Cuba

Footprint's Travel Photography author, Steve Davey, has just returned from leading a photography tour in Cuba. You can see the full gallery of images from his trip to this incredibly photogenic country here

Below, Steve reflects on his recent visit to Cuba, and how things have changed since his first visit twenty years ago. Steve's next available photography tour explores the beautiful islands of Bali & Lombok, and is open for bookings.

© Steve Davey

"I first went to Cuba twenty years ago, returned ten years ago on a commission from the BBC, and have just returned from leading a photography tour from the top to the bottom of the country. Although there have been a number of changes over the past two decades, the essence of the country is still intact. You really do see classic fifties cars all over the place, people really do hangout in the streets dancing and playing dominoes and smoking big fat cigars. And don't get me started on the rum: there are cocktail sellers seemingly everywhere, and measuring out the rum seems to be considered a counter-revolutionary act! The best place for cocktails has to be the northern town of Viñales: here your mixologist is likely  prepare you a virgin piña colada, and then hand you a bottle of rum so you can add your own booze... ¡Viva la revolución!

© Steve Davey

Some of the changes that have happened in Cuba will surprise you. There are actually more classic American cars on the streets now, than there were on my previous trips. The reason for this owes more to capitalism than Castro's socialismo o muerte. Some eight years ago the government lifted its ban on the private selling of classic cars, although their export is still prohibited. As a result city-dwellers headed all over the country and bought cars to work as taxi drivers in tourist hotspots.

© Steve Davey

Talking of hotspots; although it is somewhat restricted, and some sites are blocked, the internet has come to Cuba in a big way. Many of the more expensive hotels offer wifi, and access can be as little as a Convertible CUC (the Cuban hard currency which is pegged to the dollar) for 30 minutes access. You can log on as many times as you like until your time is up, and as the internet is state controlled, you can use the same log-on card on most wifi connections. Internet in Cuba is not just restricted to tourists either. Wifi is also provided in a number of city squares and outside of Cuba Telecom offices, so you will see dozens of locals sitting around, surfing the web, snap-chatting and video-calling on smart-phones and sometimes laptops. Like so much in Cuba it happens outdoors,  communally and often with a liberal sprinkling of rum & cigars!

© Steve Davey

Will Cuba change now that the US boycott seems to be coming to an end? Undoubtedly - as I found out recently, it had already changed; but in so many ways it remains unmistakeably Cuban!"

Steve Davey, March 2016

Steve Davey runs his own unique range of travel photography tours with all land arrangements provided by Intrepid Travel. Steve accompanies each tour, supplying photography tuition, image reviews and pointing out and creating a variety of photo opportunities. 

His next tour with places still available travels to Bali & Lombok in September 2016. This stunning trip includes the chance to trek up dormant volcanoes to photograph the sunrise, witness the vibrant Galungan festival and photograph the Sakanen Temple festival: all whilst learning more about travel photography than you ever though possible, and coming away with stunning pictures and great memories. More information about this trip can be found on Steve's website.

© Steve Davey
This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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