My Cuban Family

In May, I taught another of the photo workshops in Cuba, which I do together with my friend and colleague Sven Creutzmann. Before the workshop commenced we took a trip to the valley of Viñales in the western part of the country. There we visit the family of farmers I have followed for more than 20 years—and whom I have photographed ever since, as some of you who follow my blog already know.

First recently have I been able to edit and process the photos from the trip. It’s just been too busy ever since—and then the summer holiday in there as well.

The family of farmers has become my own second family in Cuba. I don’t often have as much time to spend with them as I would like. But no matter how short the visit, I am always feeling at home and welcomed by all the family members.

Today it’s two brothers and a sister who runs the farm, the children of the couple I started to follow first in the 90’s. Both parents are dead now, so the siblings have taken over, and the next generation is about to grow up as well.

The family doesn’t have much, but lives off the land that they own, where they cultivate boniatos, yuccas, potatoes, tomatoes and tobacco, to only mention a little of their crops. In addition, they have a small livestock of cows, some pigs and lots of chicken and a couple of horses.

It’s always a great joy to visit my family. It’s such a peaceful land, albeit also demanding. Their livelihood is full of hardship, but they nevertheless always have time to greet me and make me feel at home. They may not have much, but they always makes sure I can’t get away without eating with them and enjoy evenings around the farm.

These are a few of the photos from this latest trip of mine.

79 thoughts on “My Cuban Family

  1. I was especially taken with the photo of the man with the horses: partly because of the horses themselves. Those are some good-looking animals. It’s always enjoyable to see another set of photos from the farm, though I’m sure you see changes on every visit.

  2. What a marvellous collection of images, Otto. So full of life and natural compositions.

    Almost like street photos in their spontaneity. Love the clarity and colours of the scenes.

    Thank you for sharing your ‘family’

  3. How cool Otto to have known this family for so long and to have spent so many years with them. The photographs are beautiful. When do you return to Cuba? I’d love to see more of the island.

  4. Just Perfect all the way… > “The family of farmers has become my own second family in Cuba” and Lucky you are…next to each other. Sounds, Feels like Atmosphere of Freedom, Spontaneity, Respect, Mutual Help… Merci Otto 🙂

  5. Just wonderful moments, Otto, captured in your special way. I agree with the commenters in everything, and I hope you will make a memory book for the family.

  6. Everyone looks happy and that’s the most important thing, though to be honest, it does look like a lot of work. Wishing them the right amounts of sunshine and rain for a good harvest. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  7. This is a favorite scene for me Otto. These lovely people so welcoming, so down to earth. Such big smiles and happy faces, I hope they remain happy. It’s very moving.

  8. I love your storytelling through your images, Otto. How wonderful that you’ve maintained this warm relationship with your family all these years. Your affection shines through in your photos.

  9. a fine collection of their everyday lives. i would call it documentary; and it is, but that seems cold, does it not ?

    at any rate, a fine collection of life. you controlled the harsh light very well.

  10. What beautiful, intimate images you’ve captured. As so many others have commented, it looks like hard work but what you really come away with is the beautiful spirit of these people. Gorgeous work, Otto.

  11. They look like pictures not just of a different land, but a different time. They look like nice folks, not surprised to hear about their hospitality. I had to look up “boniatos” – – a white sweet potato? Do they really taste like roasted chestnuts?

  12. Once again, Otto, I just have to say that your photos are absolutely beautiful. I think of all the stories you tell, I most enjoy the way your share your Cuban family. You capture the warmth of the experience, along with the beauty of the people themselves. You have a fantastic eye for seeing the “special” in the “every day.”

  13. Lovely post and photos. I love the lighting. It seems like each image was blessed with fill light of some sort. The images of the people with their critters really reach out to me. But also, that Adirondack chair…. Are you finding many things changing very quickly since the US (supposedly) opened ties with Cuba?

    1. Many things have changed in Cuba, although not so much in rural areas, and not because of more opened ties between Cuba and the US—except for more American tourist. Besides, after Trump took over, the ties have closed down again…

  14. Beautiful tribute to a land and family you clearly love ~ the third shot is so perfect: composed/framed so beautifully, perfectly for the scene and your words. I’m a more rural type of person, so I feel very much at home even though it is not an easy life with so much hardship, it is a noble and proud life…I love it. Also, I can connect with your emotion of having a “family” elsewhere, as in Asia/Hong Kong I’ve got family that opens up new worlds for all involved. Beautiful.

    1. Thank you so much for those lovely words, Randall. I have seen your images from your other world, and they are stunning—as are the photos from the US west coast. There is something special about the humble and yet proud life many not so wealthy live, isn’t there.

  15. It must be wonderful to have this contact down so many years, Otto. As well as nourish and befriend you they’ve provided a rich source of photography. 🙂 🙂 Have a good weekend!

  16. Really nice to see some different images of Cuba away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is so nice to be able to know some real locals and see how most of the country lives. Great images!

  17. Yes, I do remember you posting about these farmers previously. These shots are even more impressive as you’ve captured them interacting with their surroundings. Not just their farm, but the landscape.

    You inspire strongly bucolic feelings.

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