Images from Cuba






When I teach a workshop, my own shooting becomes secondary. What is important is the photos the participants are able to capture and bring back from the workshop. Often I hardly find time to do any shooting on my own. If I do, it’s mostly when I go out and photograph alongside some of the participants – if they want me to come along.

For the participants it’s a chance to see how I approach people on the street and also a way for me to help them break the barrier that is always there when you do street photography. Moreover, they see how I shoot – and not the least how long I stay in any given situation. While most participants may capture one, two, or at most three images from a situation they encounter, I would stay for as long as it takes to get a good photograph. It may take 50 shots or it may take 300, it may take 10 minutes or it may take an hour. As I said; whatever it takes. For most participants this is quite a revelation. Good photos don’t come for free – as a manner of speaking.

Anyway during the photo workshop I just taught in Cuba a couple of weeks ago, I had more time than usually to shoot my own images, due to the fact that it was a smaller group this time and also because we were two teachers. I still haven’t really had time to edit the photos, but here is a little selection of some of the images I shot; a first pre-edit.


113 thoughts on “Images from Cuba

  1. They are great shots. I like the treatments you applied to these photos too. I just love the first photos. Last but not least, thank you for the tips for shooting the street photos.

  2. In one of the volumes of his “Alexandria Quartet,” Lawrence Durrell writes of a “bruised sky.” The image is striking, but I’ve never seen one, until now. Your first image seems to be exactly that. It’s dramatic, and mysterious — reminiscent of film noire. I’m glad to see all the images, but I’m especially taken with the first.

  3. I especially love the colours in the penultimate image but each one has a mood all its own. Wonderful photos.

  4. lovely lovely, except the pig should have picked a better place to live… altho, as the saying goes, ‘is there no god for pigs?’ (old vegan slogan)…. your pictures are beautiful, reminds me of my film days to care so deeply about taking a good photo… i do not care anymore, i can’t, i would drive me insane 🙂 now, as you know, my mission has changed lol

  5. Just popping in after a long absence. I was at another site creating my 2015 Calendar and really needed a break. Your photos have so much more emotions, adding the frames and sometime effects that are out there really can make them stand out. Glad you got a chance with some extra photos on your last trip. Really awesome photos. Must of have been pretty amazing being there for the pig butchering. I so know about taking so many photos till you think you have the right one. I have been busy at my facebook page with creating photo quote cards to share there. I do miss my blogging still haven’t been back for months. Things got crazy this summer with taking care of 3 properties. We were suppose to downsize and somehow ended up with more. It’s coming, I am not giving up being able to have extra time spent with photography. But for now I am having fun being creative with photos in other ways besides blogging. It was struggle for me to get the words out sometimes. Anyway better get back to my calendar. Was nice to pop in for a visit and see you are still hard at it here. Take care

  6. Wonderful photos Otto, my favorite is the first one, such a beautiful and dramatic night scene! I think it is great you show your students how you shoot and approach people. And it’s true, good photos don’t just “happen”.

  7. I love the tone and composition in these images a lot. Thanks for sharing! And wow! You are right: to get a quality image is not always simple and easy (and I love when a professional photographer admits that). I find very difficult to stay in a given situation for a long time…to feel confident and not to disturb are my main worries.
    I am planning a trip to La Habana next year, I can’t wait! Do you regularly teach there?
    Cheers xx

  8. Otto, it’s such a pleasure to view your work and read your commentary, which is always instructive. I’m enamored with street photography. What’s interesting about your message is that street life can be fast or slow and everything in between. Rarely is it stationary. I must give more thought to the lingering and not feel that the best shot slips away faster than I can observe it. Your first three images give me tiny details of Cuban life, and pull me further into their stories. The last two seem more universal, not specific to Cuban street life. That first capture is stunning and vintage in flavor with the old automobile as center stage against that spectacular skyline. Hope that you get a chance to see my latest photograph called Baby Watch, a slice of street life in my small town. Thanks for the giving us some insights into your philosophy about stilling street life.

    1. As you have seen, I really liked you Baby Watch. As for street photography, yes, situations happen quickly or slowly, but for the photographer it always about awareness and anticipation. Thanks for the wonderful feedback, Sally.

  9. Excellent compositions. Pre-edit shots demonstrate how well you have mastered setting up a composition. Superb. 🙂

  10. Beautiful, moody shots. Wish I could visit Cuba but US travel restriction make it so difficult. Your course sounds like a wonderful way to experience Cuba.

  11. This time last year, I was asked to lead a few street photography walks with a local photo club that I was a guest speaker for. Those walks were indeed quite challenging in both trying shoot and in trying to provide in-field pointers.

    There was always a rush to keep moving and try to get something, and I had to repeatedly advise the club members that at times you have to stay in one place for a long time, and be prepared to never get a half-descent shot for weeks.

    Just because a community is crowded, doesn’t mean that you are always bound to capture something meaningful.

    1. That is indeed so. And like you have experienced most photographer not quite used to the street wise approach, have problems slowing down. It seems like the better picture is always around the next corner…

        1. Thanks for the challenge, Allan. Such challenges are always double challenges; the challenges itself and then finding time. But I will accept it, although I might have to wait a week or maybe two before acting upon it. Nevertheless I am thankful and honoured that you thought of me and look forward to make it happen.

  12. Wonderful slices of life on the streets of Cuba. I especially love that first shot of the cars and those phenomenal clouds, such great mood! Cuba sure seems like a dream spot for street photographers, you must have been “chomping at the bit” to get out there and shoot!

  13. Hej Otto, underbara gatuscener från gatulivet i läckra kompositioner. Den första blir min favorit, den andas mystik, spänning och dramatik. Den gula taxiskylten går igenom med full kraft, min fantasi tar fart här……
    Lyckliga studenter som fick möjlighet att fota tillsammans med dig. Jag har en stark önskan om att få fota nära en skicklig fotograf ute i naturen. Det tror jag är mycket givande och ett bra sätt att utveckla sitt fotande.
    Allt Gott.
    Bästa hälsningar

  14. I was immediately drawn by the the dramatic impact and energy of these images.. Only then did I begin to explore why – how had you created that impact? These are excellent photos from which I for one learned a great deal.

    1. How did I create this impact? I think most of all by timing, waiting for the situation to peak. Then of course I think there is a story in every picture, that is just as important. Light adds value and mood, and finally the graphics work well for the content of each photo. Part of the latter is the post-processing, which done with Snapseed.

  15. I always look forward to the photos you take in Cuba. It’s such an interesting country and it is very clear you love the people and call them friends. The first photo and the sky in the background is absolutely stunning. I’m so glad you shared these and I look forward to more. Otto.

  16. Buona sera Otto, vedo che sono arrivata un po’ tardi e, magari i lettori hanno già fatto tutte le osservazioni! Trovo stupendo l’entusiasmo messo nel tuo lavoro e ringrazio tanto per l’insegnamento datoci/mi. Cordiali saluti.

  17. It’s a pleasure to view these fine images, Otto. What I particularly like about the first one is that you’ve shown one of those classic cars that Cuba is famous for, but you’ve done it in a way that totally avoids the typical clichéd look. The second photo is just so dynamic with that juxtaposition, too.

    Thanks once again for taking time out of what must be a busy schedule to visit my blog.

  18. I’ve been waiting to see your photos from Cuba!!! These are fabulous! I think Cuba is one of the most photogenic places I’ve been and would love to go back someday purely to take pictures. Can’t wait until you edit the rest!

      1. Yes Cuba is special. Have you been to Bolivia? I just got back yesterday and the photo options are amazing. There is such a vibrant indigenous culture there. You would go crazy taking photos! I did but I’m just an amateur. 🙂

          1. Wow, do you have some posts on Bolivia I can look at? I wish I was a better photographer but as a mom of two trying to keep my life in tact, I only have so much time! I still think the photos I took turned out fairly well thought because it is so gorgeous there and so colorful! Please let me know if you have any posts on Bolivia I can look at! Would love to see your work there! Someday I would love to go on one of your photo trips! 🙂

              1. Thank you for sharing ! These are gorgeous! I found Bolivia to be such a colorful place. I was very inspired by the indigenous women. Their colorful clothing and hats made me smile. They are quite hard working too! 🙂

  19. Beautiful shots of the Cuban life ~ makes me feel as if I was there (and since I’ve always wanted to be there, your shots are almost torturous!). Great capture of the spirit ~ and I love the one of the old cars…a bit of the romantic.

  20. Great shots and a wonderful workshop. A lot of learning and new experiences meeting new friendly people and colors! Highly recomandable! Best regards Nicolaas

  21. Great photos, Otto. Every time I look at your photos – and at the photos from your workshops – I get a little closer to join myself: It would be a great challenge for me getting so much (more) inspiration from your photograpy….

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