This is a customized workshop specifically designed for photographers of ANY skill level. This is a small group workshop limited to 6 people and is one of the most affordable Cuba photography workshops available. We stay in private homes, eat at locally-owned establishments, work with Cuban photographers and guides, and seek to build relationships with the Cuban people. You’ll get the best of both worlds by visiting Havana’s impressive historical attractions, soaking up the art and cultural scene, discovering hidden local spots around the city, and breaking out into the farmlands and natural parks of the Viñales region. This workshop provides an opportunity to discover and photograph things most visitors will never get to the chance to see, all while meeting some of the island nation’s most interesting inhabitants, including fellow Cuban photographers.
Day one: November 6, 2021 - Welcome to Cuba
Espiritu Travel Cuban guide extraordinaire, Carlos, and award-winning photographer, Jim O’Donnell will greet you at Havana airport upon your arrival. Please make your flight arrangements so that you arrive before 2:00 pm on November 6, 2021. If you are unable to arrive before that time, we are able to arrange a pre-night and the arrival transfer (additional costs apply). Transfer to your casa particular and check-in.
Settle into your casa particular and get familiar with the neighborhood. In the late afternoon, we will head to the Welcome to Cuba orientation gathering with the other participants for sunset and drinks on the terrace at La Guarida followed by dinner at La Guarida.
Check out this video from our 2019 Havana Imagined Photography Workshop
Day two: November 7, 2021 - Getting Acquainted
After breakfast at about 9 am we begin our exploration of Havana with a walking tour in Old Havana with our Cuban guide. We will be on the lookout for street dancers with colorful costumes, unique architecture, and the Havana you’ve always imagined – as well as the one you didn’t know existed. We will talk about street photography best practices and work on getting our first captures of Havana. We will uncover what part of the city has been restored and what has not. We will have lunch at El Carbón, where Chef Ivan will serve us up with some of the best fusion food Havana has to offer.
After lunch we will continue our exploration of the city with an hour and a half panoramic tour of Havana in classic American cars, stopping along the way for pictures of several Havana sites as well as pictures of the cars themselves. After that, you’ll want to move your body and so we will enjoy a walking tour of Fuente de La India, Parque de La Fraternidad, Capitolio, Gran Teatro Alicia Alonso, Parque Central where we will have a chance for some photography with more vintage cars as well as some further play with street captures.
Before dinner, we will head to the Fortress San Carlos de La Cabaña for sunset photography of the Havana cityscape.
Day three: November 8, 2021 - Havana, Inside and Out
For those who are up for it, we will wake early for a morning stroll and photo exploration of the seawall along the Malecón at dawn.
After breakfast, we will walk from our casa up into the tree-lined streets of the Vedado neighborhood to visit the Cuba Libro cafe and bookstore, an ethically- and socially-responsible cultural center dedicated to building, strengthening, and supporting the Havana community. Along the way, we will explore and photograph the University of Cuba and the colonial architecture of Vedado.
After lunch, we visit the Cuban National Ballet in Havana Vieja, for a photo session with the ballerinas. Then head over to the rooftop of the Barcardi building for sunset photography, or we will prowl the streets of old Havana, depending on the light and our desires.
For dinner, we will visit one of the best tapas bars in the city. If anyone has any energy left there is live music at the Fabrica de Arte Cubano, an intellectual nexus for live music, art expos, fashion shows, and invigorating debate over coffee and cocktails, in this converted cooking-oil factory in the Vedado neighborhood. Alternatively, there is a wonderful drag show at the Las Vegas Bar just around the corner from our casas. This has been a favorite with past participants but it doesn’t start until 11 pm. Yet another option is Cafe Teatro Bertolt Brecht, where Cuba’s best contemporary musicians gather.
Day four: November 9, 2021 - Classic Cars and the Old City
After breakfast, we will try our hands at car repair! We will visit a garage that specializes in the restoration of the classic cars that have come to define modern Cuba. We will focus our cameras in on classic automobiles and men and women hard at work. Then we will cool off with some cold beers and a hearty lunch at one of our favorite fantastic paladars in Havana Vieja.
From there, you will have the opportunity to explore Havana Vieja on your own. Some of the best street photography opportunities in the world exist in Havana Vieja. We will explore barber shops, cafes, bars, and more seeking new friendships, photos, and a deeper understanding of the lives of the Cuban people.
At sunset, we will enjoy Rum and cervezas and a stroll along the Malecón for “golden hour”. We will be seeking captures of the city, the sea, and the festive gathering of Habañeros, the people of Havana!
When ready, we will walk to a nearby, highly regarded Russo-Cuban fusion restaurant for dinner. After dinner, head back to your casa or enjoy live music at La Zorra y El Cuervo, Havana’s most famous jazz club or check out another night of drag at the Las Vegas Bar!
Day five: November 10, 2021 - Photographers and Musicians
After breakfast, we will meet two young Cuban street photographers who will guide us through the streets of Havana. After lunch, we will head to the Vedado neighborhood where we will have an organized photography shoot with some of the musicians that help bring Havana to life. Strap on your dancing shoes!
Day six: November 11, 2021 - Off to Viñales!
It’s time to leave the bustling city of Havana behind to get out into the countryside. After breakfast, we’ll head to the small, rural community of Viñales (a 2.5 hr drive), famous for its mogotes, small limestone hills situated throughout the lush green countryside. Along the way, we will visit Las Terrazas and Soroa. Las Terrazas is an eco-village dating to a reforestation project begun in 1968. Today, Las Terrazas is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the site of the earliest coffee plantations in Cuba. Options here include hiking, bird watching (and photography), and a canopy tour. Soroa is known for its waterfalls, orchids, and terraced landscape.
Day seven: November 12, 2021 - Landscapes and Tobacco Farmers
For those who are up for it, we will rise before dawn and join our guide for a hike into the mountains to gain a once-in-a-lifetime panoramic view of the valley at sunrise before returning to our casa for breakfast and to prepare for the day. Once the sun has risen we will meet the rest of our group at tobacco farm for breakfast. We will spend the morning visiting several other tobacco farms to learn firsthand how the tobacco for the world-famous Cuba cigars is grown, processed and assembled.
We will head back to our casa for lunch. The afternoon will be free for you to explore the town and the surrounding area.
Before dinner, we will enjoy our final beverage of the trip together at a place with fantastic views over the valley.
Vinales does have a lively nightlife – especially on Friday’s.
Day eight: November 13, 2021 - Departure
Time to say goodbye to Cuba, After breakfast transfer to José Martí International Airport. Please make sure to book your departing flight for after 2 pm.
Extend your trip! The JoJazz Havana Jazz Competition taking place in Havana from the 11 to the 14th of November. The festival features outstanding young talent in this genre of music. We can make arrangements for you!
We use charming casas particulares. All casas in our portfolio have private bathroom facilities and air conditioning, and we have hand picked our casas to ensure the highest standards and are well located.
Travel with a positive impact
Our “Take a Camera to Havana” program will provide the opportunity for you to donate your old or unused camera equipment to Cuban photographers in need. With the help of your tour leader you will be able to discover the most spectacular Cuba. You will be able to see how Cubans really live in a unique and very personal experience.
Why travel with us?
Customized and private trip
We’re full of ideas and we take time to design a trip for you that ticks all the boxes. We have the knowledge and contacts to ensure that your trip is a once in a lifetime. Our five star guides bring Cuba to life through their personal stories and life experiences, They are all about showing you the real Cuba to discover things you won’t find out about any other way.
We pride ourselves on delivering an enriching ‘local’ experience in Cuba– and therefore we feel it’s our responsibility to leave a positive impact as well as reduce negative impacts. We are committed to working in a socially and environmentally conscious way, and making a positive difference. Click here for more details about our responsible travel journey.
What our clients have to say?
Over the years we’ve been creating inspirational and immersive trips for our clients, and what better testament to this than to hear the great things they have to say about their experience, and our service. We have plenty of great reviews to share, be sure and click here to read some.