6 Pros on Taking Surprising and Unique Photos of Cuba

Cuba is definitely an island filled with existence and tradition. Uncover how you can capture the colourful culture of Cuba with tips from six experienced travel photographers.

Half a century ago, photographers like Burt Glinn and Alberto Korda documented Cuba around the edge of drastic change. Lately, the nation experienced another major transformation, precipitated partly by normalized relations between their government and also the U . s . States.

From Havana to Trinidad, this nation continues to be photographed many occasions over, but still, Cuba is constantly on the evolve. With each and every visit you&rsquore certain to find something totally new. Behind the historic architecture and classic American cars, you will find numerous untold tales waiting to become discovered.

We requested six gifted photographers in the Shutterstock collection to mirror on their own travels to Cuba. Below, they discuss searching beyond the clich&eacutes, with the aid of the locals, they deomonstrate a far more authentic and different side of the famously photogenic nation. Come along once we go to the legendary and hidden corners of the colorful island.

1. &#8220To take authentic photos of Cuba, try visiting the more remote villages where there’s a far more rural lifestyle.&#8221

Diana Zuleta


Image by Diana Zuleta.&nbspGear: Nikon D610 camera, 50.0mm f/1.4 lens. Settings: Exposure 1/500 sec f4. ISO 100.

What&rsquos the storyline behind this photo?

I had been walking with the roads of Trinidad, Cuba, taking photos from the architecture and also the residents at sunset after i saw a ray of sunshine on the floor. I made the decision this was the right place to obtain a photo, also it was simply dependent on waiting and awaiting someone interesting to pass through. A guy on the bicycle having a child went by me, but they didn’t omit the laser beam, and so i kindly requested him to pass through again however this time just along that line. He accomplished it, which continues to be probably the most downloaded photos within my Shutterstock portfolio.


Image by Diana Zuleta.

Pro Tip

To consider authentic photos of Cuba, try visiting the more remote villages where there’s a far more rural lifestyle. It may be beneficial to get out there and take pictures at sunrise, around 6:00 AM, once the residents leave their properties and start working in order to the marketplace. At the moment, there are hardly any vacationers in the pub.

Like a female professional photographer traveling on your own, I felt safe in Cuba. Residents explained that thievery isn’t common and you can securely walk around anytime. When the place and also the light are great, you need to wait immediately for something interesting to occur. Before I travel to a different place, I additionally browse the photos of this place which are already on Shutterstock. This way, I don&rsquot simply make a lot of same photos but achieve better and fewer common ones.


2. &#8220Be patient, receptive, and mindful, and respect the neighborhood people.&#8221

Maurizio De Mattei


Image by Maurizio De Mattei.&nbspGear: Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera, 24-70 lens. Settings: Focal length 60mm shutter speed 1/125 sec f8. ISO 320.

What&rsquos the storyline behind this photo?

I had been hiking in the united states around Vinales, within the Pinar del Rio region, using the aim of recording maqui berry farmers at the office. It had been a late summer time mid-day after i showed up in a small farm home and glimpsed several maqui berry farmers around a classic table experiencing the shadow of a giant tropical tree. These were joking and laughing, and that i was instantly attracted for them.

I bashfully requested basically could join, plus they agreed, asking where I had been from and ongoing to experience dominoes. We began to talk like old buddies. Individuals are friendly and hospitable in Cuba, which is always nice to have interaction together. Mainly in the evening, they like sitting lower outdoors of the homes, communicating with neighbors and passersby. Frequently, additionally they play dominoes, sometimes utilizing a board laid on their own legs or perhaps a dining table introduced outdoors only for that purpose.

I shot numerous photographs, which is certainly one of my personal favorite photos of Cuba. It represents a smaller-known but truthful part of the Cuban lifestyle. The late mid-day sunlight improves the texture from the maqui berry farmers&rsquo hands and expresses the closeness and conviviality from the moment.

Pro Tip

Before visiting Cuba, I recommend you receive a general concept of Cuban history, its celebrities, and it is local culture (art, architecture, food, celebrations, etc.). Investigate the popular sites and evaluate which other photographers have taken before you decide to. This is actually the beginning point from which you’ll construct your own body of labor. Attempt to visualize new and private views of legendary places by working out different perspectives, vantage points, and moments. Put down in your journey having a travel plan along with a tentative listing of photographs to capture.

When organizing your travel plan, make sure you spend some time. Visiting Cuba is frequently a once-in-a-lifetime experience, also it&rsquos important you will find the time for you to immerse yourself within the atmosphere of Cuba, to breathe it in, to understand more about it by walking, and also to uncover locations from the beaten path.

Speak with residents and make the most of local guides who are able to provide unpredicted insights and fascinating tales to inform together with your photos. Go to your selected destinations just like you were a nearby yourself make repeated appointments with observe how the sunshine changes, and discover methods to avoid crowds. Enjoy Cuba. Have patience, receptive, and mindful, and respect the neighborhood people. You may capture less photos by using these pointers, however i guarantee they’ll be more significant and original.


Image by Maurizio De Mattei.

Listed here are a couple of examples. Should you&rsquore travelling attractions, it is extremely simple to find individuals with cigars whom you can photograph for any buck, however if you simply walk just a little further, you’ll find fantastic real people for the portraits. Our taxi driver also required us to some place having a scenic terrace, and after that, I taken gorgeous shots from the Valley de los Ingenios.

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3. &#8220Allow you to ultimately wander and spend more time with the locals.&#8221

Kimberly Shavender


Image by Kimberly Shavender.&nbspGear: Nikon D610 camera, 16mm-35mm f/4. Nikkor lens. Settings: Focal length 28mm exposure 4 sec f8 ISO 500.

What&rsquos the storyline behind this photo?

I traveled to Cuba alone early in the year of 2016 like a freelance photojournalist. I had been fortunate to stay in Cuba exactly the same weekend Obama and the family made their historic trip, and that i rapidly found that most Cubans love Americans plus they love Obama. I visited Havana, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos, and my personal favorite location was Old Havana, where I remained having a local family through AirBnB.

Around the morning of the shot, I walked from my AirBnB at 6:00 AM, wishing to capture the candle lit cobblestone roads without pedestrians. Because it switched out, my personal favorite was this lengthy exposure shot of two figures strolling from the camera, breathing existence and movement into a normally still shot. The 4-second exposure only agreed to be lengthy enough to slightly blur the silhouettes while still maintaining the form of those.

Kimberly ShavenderKimberly Shavender

mosaic__mobile-caption">Pictured: [1] Kimberly Shavender [2] Kimberly Shavender

Pro Tip

Allow you to ultimately wander and spend more time with the locals. Seek information in advance, highlight tourist destinations, after which mind out with no agenda. The opportunity to speak just a little Spanish may also permit you to interact with the locals and listen to their tales. Even while a lady traveling solo, I felt safe speaking with everybody I met. Possibilities for ecological portraits that tell the tales from the creative and resilient Cuban individuals are everywhere, should you take time to discover their whereabouts.


4. &#8220Cuba is among the safest destinations within the Caribbean for vacationers, so don&rsquot hesitate just to walk around freely.&#8221



Image by akturer.&nbspGear: Canon 6D camera, Canon 16-35 mm f/2.8L II USM lens. Settings: Focal length 16mm exposure 1/160 sec f4 ISO 100.

What&rsquos the storyline behind this photo?

It was my first day in Havana, and that i felt like I’d traveled back in its history. Prior to going there, I’d examined several photos of Havana, and that i planned to consider photos from the Capitolio building from the different perspective utilizing a reflection or perhaps a mirror or something like that. After I arrived, this excellent old American vehicle was parked on the street, and that i required several photos from the interior using the Capitolio building also visible without anyone’s knowledge.

Pro Tip

My first tip would be to visit before it&rsquos far too late! I visited Cuba two occasions, in 2015 and 2017, and that i observed a lot of changes just in individuals 2 yrs. For any memorable Cuban experience, I suggest remaining inside a &ldquocasa particular.&rdquo They are &ldquoprivate homes&rdquo controlled through the government. They’ve 2 to 3 rooms and something kitchen, and also you&rsquoll accept a nearby host when you&rsquore there.

Cuba is among the safest destinations within the Caribbean for vacationers, so don&rsquot hesitate just to walk around freely. Individuals are friendly there, and you may take fantastic portrait shots&mdashwith permission, obviously. Prior to going, don&rsquot forget to consider your map along with you since you won&rsquot locate one whenever you&rsquore there. Awaken about 6:00 each morning that&rsquos the optimum time for staying away from the crowds and vacationers.


Image by akturer.

Walk across the Malecon in Havana. If you have been things there, especially interesting people and sunsets. Don&rsquot forget to consider your tripod. Neptuno is really a lengthy street parallel towards the Malecon, and you’ll find beautiful types of architecture there. Paseo de Marti is really a lengthy street for pedestrians, also it&rsquos quite active for fun on saturday. There’s always someone there: little flamenco dancers, painters, ballerinas, etc.

Should you&rsquore in Trinidad, don&rsquot miss the possibility take photos at sunset on Playa Ancon, and don&rsquot forget to consider bug repellent along with you. If you’re lucky, you may also see a large number of moving crabs on the highway between Havana and Trinidad in March. It’s not easy to begin to see the road since it is filled with crabs, but regrettably, most of them die since they’re crushed through the cars.

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5. &#8220If you need to come with an authentic Cuban experience, I discourage you against remaining in a resort.&#8221

Roxana Gonzalez


Image by Roxana Gonzalez.&nbspGear: Nikon D300 camera, Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. Settings: Focal length 18mm (in 35mm: 27mm) exposure 10 sec f8. ISO 100.

What&rsquos the storyline behind this photo?

&ldquoEl Morro&rdquo lighthouse is really a essential Cuban landmark built over 400 years back to protect the doorway to Havana Bay. It&rsquos well-liked by vacationers and locals, with no trip to Havana is finished with no trip over the bay to look at the magnificent views from the city skyline using its famous Malecon running plus the sea.

Most images of this legendary fortress are obtained from the other side from the bay and show merely a partial look at the landmark with no clues about its relationship towards the city. With this picture, I needed to provide just a little context by showing each side from the bay using the sunlight disappearing in the heart of the frame.

I made the decision to shoot a lengthy exposure after sunset to capture the town lights around the left and highlight the silhouette from the familiar structure. With a few persistence, I could sync the shutter using the rotating lighthouse beam, and, like a bonus, some fishermen silhouettes is visible around the tip from the rocks.


Image by Roxana Gonzalez.

Pro Tip

If you wish to come with an authentic Cuban experience, I discourage you against remaining in a resort. Renting a &ldquocasa particular&rdquo (listings on AirBnB are a good option!) inside a city will offer you more chances to have interaction using the local culture and discover individuals moments when exceptional pictures could be taken.

I suggest getting acquainted with areas you intend to go to in advance so that you can group together tourist destinations and increase your time. My personal favorite way look around the roads is clearly by walking. Old Havana offers great photo possibilities packed inside a relatively small area. Look up for individuals architectural details that may be easily missed since things are full of activity in the street level. I’d attempt to cover different focal lengths to capture whenever possible.

Search for cultural context. Most roads are narrow and provide a literal window in to the daily existence from the Cuban people, because they frequently congregate and share precious moments using their neighbors and buddies. Be sincere, and, whenever possible, ask prior to taking a photograph. Just a little ambiance goes a lengthy way, so make use of your social skills (language permitting) and get locals for tips to get the best locations.

If you’re able to, arrange a trip with an old convertible American vehicle without any roof. The breathtaking photography options you&rsquoll find riding across the Malecon and Old Havana offer endless chances to photograph urban views and architectural landmarks. One other good alternative is really a double-decker sightseeing bus. These buses depart hourly in the Central Park in Havana, or ride Cuban style inside a bicitaxi and try taking some of the best street images!

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6. &#8220To find the most amazing and hidden places, you need to traverse the nation by vehicle.&#8221

Lena Wurm


Image by Lena Wurm.&nbspGear: Canon Eos 5D Mark ll camera, 24-70mm lens. Settings: Focal length 27mm exposure 1/100 sec f11. ISO 100.

What&rsquos the storyline behind this photo?

In route from Havana to Vinales, we discovered this beautiful Caribbean sand beach, in which the locals meet on weekends to correct their Classic cars together. It had been a genuine Cuban open-air vehicle repair workshop, along with the beach, the ocean, and also the Cuban flag, it had been the right motif to mirror the climate of Cuba.

Lena WurmLena WurmLena Wurm

Pictured: [1] Lena Wurm [2] Lena Wurm [3] Lena Wurm

Pro Tip

To obtain the most breathtaking and hidden places, you need to traverse the nation by vehicle. The &ldquoreal&rdquo Cuba are available mostly from the typical tourist stops. You&rsquoll obtain the best tips in the locals, who’re incredibly nice useful. Some Cuban individuals are unhappy to become photographed without having to be requested permission however, should you question them nicely or provide a small tip, they’ll be very happy to have a photo.

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Top image by akturer.

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