Ups and Downs of Cuba










Cuba is a dream for any photographer. But it’s a nightmare for anyone who wants to stay connected with the rest of the world. The internet must be one of the worst in any country I have ever visited. Even Western Sahara which I visited earlier this year could offer better internet connection. Internet in Cuba is both unreliable and for the most part extremely slow. That’s why I have managed to take care of only the most important emails while visiting the Caribbean island. Otherwise I would have been spending hours in front of the computer. That’s also the reason I have been absent from any blogging. Even though I prepared a post by uploading pictures before leaving for Cuba and then just having to add an updated text, I still decided it would take too long to even make a try. Sorry for be away from the blog sphere.

Nevertheless I had a great time in Cuba. It’s a fantastic place to visit and Cubans are extremely welcoming. I visited my second family in Viñales, the farmers I have stayed in contact with for 20 years. And I spend time with my colleague and friend Sven Creutzmann planning new exciting photo workshops for next year (and upcoming years) – which I eventually will get back to. Of course I photographed, too, but this time it was much less about photography than brain storming and planning.

I still haven’t had time to edit the pictures from this trip to Cuba, so I will instead post a handful from previous travels. The new pictures will come in one of the next posts. And, again, sorry for not having been able to follow up on all you my blogger friends.

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115 thoughts on “Ups and Downs of Cuba

    1. You are quite right, in many ways it’s is nice to have to be away at least from internet access. And, yes, I did get some good shooting done. Thanks.

  1. Velkommen hjem! Hyggelig at du er tilbake i bloggland! ; )
    Herlig utvalg bilder! Det første av de tre karene liker jeg spesielt godt! ; ) Jammen har du vært tett på Castro – hvilket år var dette?
    Frister med workshop i Cuba! : )

    1. Takk for hyggelig ord. Bildet av Castro er fra 2000 i forbindelse med Elián Gonzáles-saken, gutten som overlevde en båtferd fra Cuba til Miami. Moren døde underveis, og etterpå ble det en stor sak mellom Cuba og USA om hvor gutten skulle få være.

    1. Wide angel is definitely my favourite lens, particularly when shooting people. I like the closeness it creates between me and the subjects – and the fact that it will show people in their environment.

  2. You have been missed, welcome back! These are wonderful photos, love the one with the girl getting primped for a special occasion and the 3 men sitting on the stoop. I look forward to your recent trip shots, it does look like an amazing place to shoot.

  3. Welcome back Otto. This is one stunning post, the photos are superb. I wasn’t too sure when first seeing the thumnails, if I was looking at yours or Steve McCurry’s blog. Your styles are very similar and of course both outstanding.

  4. I’m glad you made it safely back. It’s nice to “see” you again. I am looking forward to seeing some of your new work.

  5. I’d love to visit our neighbor island one of these days. By the way, I’d like to take this opportunity to share a poem that Lola Rodríguez de Tió once wrote about Cuba. She was a Puerto Rican poet and died in Cuba the 10th of November, 1924. The poem is in Spanish though…, but there is a line that says: Cuba and Puerto Rico are the two wings of the same bird.

    “MI LIBRO DE CUBA” de Lola Rodriguez de Tió

    ¡Vuestros dioses tutelares
    Han de ser también los míos!
    Vuestras palmas, vuestros ríos
    repetirán mis cantares…
    Culto rindo a estos hogares
    Donde ni estorba ni aterra
    El duro brazo que cierra
    Del hombre los horizontes…
    ¡Yo cantaré en estos montes
    Como cantaba en mi tierra!

    Cuba y Puerto Rico son
    De un pájaro las dos alas,
    Reciben flores y balas
    Sobre el mismo corazón…
    ¡Qué mucho si en la ilusión
    Qué mil tintes arrebola,
    Sueña la musa de Lola
    Con ferviente fantasía,
    ¡De esta tierra y la mía,
    Hacer una patria sola!

    Le basta al ave una rama
    Para formar blando lecho:
    Bajo su rústico techo
    ¡Es dichosa porque ama!
    Todo el que en amor se inflama
    Calma en breve su hondo anhelo:
    Y yo plegando mi vuelo,
    Como el ave en la enramada,
    Canto feliz, Cuba amada,
    ¡Tu mar, tu campo y tu cielo!

  6. i think you have a wonderful second family in cuba.. your photos are all amazing, rich in “life” and all with stories to tell..looking forward to the rest of your photos during your travel..

  7. A wonderful selection from your older shots of Cuba, Otto. I’m always partial to intimate scenes with people, as in these beautiful ones here, but what I want to single out in my comment is your handling of the composition in the third photo of the building. The strategically placed passers
    by give this such a great atmosphere, making it so much more than just a purely architectural shot.

  8. I love seeing the photos again and am reminded that ¥ou must hjave been in heaven with that wonderfull light and the background of those colors! Looking forward to you images. Carla

  9. Welcome Back Home. Always Love your photos of people so wonderful! the colors, bars and windows of the first photo very mesmerizing. I look forward to seeing photos from your trip. It was probably nice to be away from the work of the computer for awhile also nice to have time to do some brain storming. Don’t feel bad about being away you are like a free bird and should not be teatherd, and that is a good thing. Sounds like you had a good trip. Nice to spend time with your second family as well. :+)

    1. I did have a very nice time – both away from the computer, and with my second family, shooting and brain storming. Absolutely. Thanks for the nice words.

  10. A wonderful serie of Cuba. I love the first photo of this post. I visited Cuba several years ago and loved being there. It is so much different than Europe 😉

  11. Wow you even got a picture of Mr Castro!
    Cuba is an island of great colors, great history and marvelous people and you shared all of that in these few pix.
    I have two questions:
    1. Why is it so hard to get onto the internet?
    2. How do the Cubans manage? Or don’t they? – in other words which is exactly what the government wants

    1. Thank you for your comment and questions, Roseanne. Cuba is not connected up to the big wire that runs just outside the coast (and guess why…). Instead all internet connections go through a unstable wire to Venezuela. In addition mostly in Cuba you connect with internet by dial-up. Which only makes it worse. Cubans in general don’t have internet. And it’s surely part of the control – besides the technical limitations.

  12. Hi, Otto. Love this. Now I’m inspired by your photos to craft a story again. I look at the people’s faces and I ask myself, “Who are they? What do they dream about? Aspire for? Who do they love?”

    Maybe I’ll wait for more photos on Cuba. What do you think?

    1. As I wrote on your blog, I think it would be fun if you would like to write another story based on one of my photos. But I don’t think you need to wait for more pictures. Just pick any that inspires you. 🙂

  13. Welcome back, Otto!! I love your review about your second family and see, we have not forgotten about you…I guess you make the saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” a reality. Lol!! 🙂

  14. You’re aways missed, Otto, but with such an amazing country, the “highs” and “lows,” I think you probably more fully experienced a connection to the people by being so disconnected from the rest of your life. I will be very eager to hear more about this trip and see your photos. As I’ve said before, and share with so many Americans, I have a tremendously strong feeling for the Cuban people. This isn’t the place for political talk, but you can assume I would like to see some changes in American policy. I will relish anything you share from the trip! Debra

    1. I totally agree with you, it would be great if some day (not too long into the future either) if we would see some changes in the American policy visa vis Cuba. And I wouldn’t mind seeing some changes in Cuba, too, but maybe not the way some US Americans and politicians would like it…

  15. This serie is totally awesome. I like particularely the first by the attitudes and expressions of the characters as well as colors. But I like others too. I think just a shame that your images are so small in size.

    1. Thank you for the nice words. The size of the pictures is as it is to make the site upload quicker – and to prevent anyone to misuse them. Small pictures won’t work on printed matter.

  16. No reason to excuse, that you are not connected and updated on blogging, Otto – I just enjoy every photo and story, that you post here – and admire your project about your second family.

  17. Incredible shots. Taking photos of people is a weakness of mine, but I love looking at images who so clearly understand how to do it well. Thank you.

  18. Feels great to see you back. These are some excellent pictures. So realistic and colorful. Can’t wait to see more pictures from this trip of yours. 🙂

  19. I enjoyed your photos from Cuba. The backgrounds and people look fascinating. I’ve always wanted to photograph there but unfortunately the last 4 years I dedicated to photographing my book on atomic bomb survivors. Now that the book is released I have an interest to photograph in Cuba.

    1. I think whatever project one is working on, is great for a the personal development and engagement. And it sounds like you have been working on a great project. I wouldn’t use the word unfortunately. Is the book available in regular book stores, by the way?

  20. I’ve never been to Cuba, Otto, but really enjoyed your account…I’ve heard that a lot (great for photos, not so great for some of the other more common “luxuries”, like internet. Great pics, as usual!

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