Our annual Havana Imagined Photography Workshop has recently finished and once again, there were many great shots, unique and fun experiences. This year was a special year because we had two returning participants from 2018.
Each November, photography lovers have the opportunity to explore Havana and Viñales with award winning photographer, Jim O’Donnell. If you are interested in participating in our next one, get in touch with us and send us an email.
How to enjoy a photography tour in Cuba?
The Havana Imagined Photography Workshop, unlike others photography tours is a customized workshop specifically designed for photographers of ANY skill level. In addition, it is limited to 6 people. The trip not only makes the best use of the fantastic photographic opportunities but also aims to give an insight into the daily life of Cubans, building relationships with artists, dancers, athletes and small entrepreneurs to discover the hidden gems most visitors will never experience.
The arrival: Cameras on!
Finally, you have arrived to Cuba! The numerous classical cars moving around José Martí Airport are already a prelude of the adventures to come. You are greeted at the airport by both Jim O’Donnell and our guide extraordinaire, Carlos who welcomes you to the island, making you feel right at home.
After getting settled at the casa particular (a private house run by Cuban families), the group gets together over mojitos and piñas coladas at the famous Hotel Nacional! Inaugurated in 1930, the popular hotel has not only an incredible view but a hall covered by the images of the national and international figures that have stayed there and the best cocktails you could ever drink.
Jim is an experienced American photographer who wishes to express the kindness, intelligence and strength of the Cuban people through its art. You’ll learn tips and tricks to photograph Havana’s greatest spots.
Imagining Havana: The walking tour
In order to witness Havana’s daily life you should start early. Let’s capture the first shines of the sun at the Malecón while the fishermen prepare their boats and the old metropolis wakes us. Then we begin to uncover 18th century neighborhoods that few visitors see, in lookout for local markets, colonial mansions, street dancers and painters, and unique stories to tell with our cameras. You learn about street photography and the best practices to capture the city spirit.
Don’t miss the sunset at the luxurious Bacardi Building, the most prominent example of the Art Decó style in Cuba. After tasting the authentic Cuban flavors at a paladar, you will head the San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress. Built during the 18’s century with a cost of 14 million, La Cabaña was considered once the biggest fortification of the Americas. Today it’s the seat of the International Book Fair celebrated in February and the perfect place for some night photography! Enjoy the Ceremony of the Cannon Blast at 9:00 pm, a tradition remembering the times when Havana was surrounded by a huge wall during the colonial times. The cannon shot indicated the hour in which the city doors were closed.
A Panoramic adventure
There’s still so much to see!! During your 3rd day be ready for a panoramic tour of Havana in classic American cars. You’ll have the opportunity to stop along the way and obtaining those curious photos everybody loves. This World Heritage city has so much to offer that every stop is a surprise: the recently restored National Capitol, the Great Theatre of Havana Alicia Alonso, the Central Park and the happiness pumping around you.
And then, you’ll be honoring the rich cultural roots of the island spending your afternoon at the Callejón de Hamel. This unique alley has been visited by personalities from around the world. Why? Because it’s one big art gallery, a haven for Afro-Cuban art. The sociocultural project was started in the 90 by the painter, sculptor and muralist Salvador González Escalona. He aimed to revitalize the neighborhood creating an art’s space were neighbors could interact through dances, poetry and painting. You will find colorful motives, musicians, dancers and sculptures representing religious symbols and ceremonies of the Santeria and the Regla of Palo Monte.
The sunset will be a distinct experience at the Fábrica de Arte Cubano (Cuban Art Factory), a singular project combining fine arts, theatre and concerts in an antique oil factory. It’s a pretty unique place that was listed among the best 100 places in the world by Times Magazine!
Cultures and sports: the perfect shot
Cuba is well known internationally by its artists and athletes, that’s why today the group will have the very special opportunity of shooting at institutions that are cradles of the new Cuban generations: a boxing school, a ballet class and an experimental workshop.
The Rafael Trejo Boxing Gym, at Old Havana’s heart, has been home of many Cuban Olympic champions. The dynamic and passion of the young students you’ll see there tell a story of dedication and sacrifice. Equally, the little dancers of the Cuban college of Ballet speak at every photo of love, beauty and commitment. On the other hand, the Taller Experimental de Gráfica, located near to the Cathedral Square, is a cutting-edge art workshop recognized by its promotion and development of the artistic graven in the country. You will get to see and photograph some of the masters of Cuban art at work.
But, don’t stop there! Enjoy Havana’s nightlife: follow the drums, practice your salsa skills and have many delicious cocktails.
Photographers and Musicians
You have now great skills in street photography, so it’s time to visit the Fototeca de Cuba and meet some great local photographers. What a privilege to know again the city through their own work.
Prepare your camera for the colorful dancers traversing Havana at certain hours, Havana’s Chinatown and the curious town of Jaimanitas, seat of the renowned Fusterlandia.
Landscapes and farms
To crown this photography trip, you will leave the city to be surrounded by nature. First, you’ll be heading to Las Terrazas, located at the Biosphere Reserve Sierra del Rosario. It mixes history and modernism with its remains of French coffee plantations and its ecological community. There will be waterfalls, orchids and birds to delight your lens.
Finally, you will visit a National Monument and World Heritage Landscape: Viñales. Just 3 hours away from Havana, at Pinar del Río province, Viñales Valley and its picturesque town have some of the best views of Cuba. Exuberant flora, mogotes and caves interlace with tobacco fields growing until the horizon. You will visit those farms and see how the ancient organic agricultural methods are maintained until today.
Chatting with local people and taking wonderful shots. Isn’t it the best way to finish your Havana Imagined Photography Workshop.
If this interested you, contact Espiritu Travel today. You are just in time to book a spot for our next trip to Cuba!