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Cuba in Pictures: The Universal Language of Photography

Kids in Cuba. Photo Credit: Global Exchange

The following is a guest post by photographer Ron Herman, who has lead three customized Global Exchange Reality Tours to Cuba. But first, worth checking out are these articles about recent changes in the Cuba travel industry:

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Photographer: Bill Scull

“The Universal Language of Photography” by Ron Herman

Looking back on the three customized reality tours I have led to Cuba thus far, one of the things I like most after arriving in José Marti Airport is watching the trip participants’ eyes light up on the bus ride into Havana Vieja. As the sights, sounds, and smells, that are so distinctively Cuban, whirl by the bus window, it hits them that they finally made it to Cuba. And with that realization, smiles emerge on their travel worn faces……and the camera shutters start to click.

Photographer: Don Wheatley

I have led photo workshops in various other countries, but it is the people that keep drawing me back to Cuba. Unlike any other destination I have traveled to before, I find the people in Cuba to be more warm, open, and willing to engage with the camera. Even though many trip participants weren’t able to speak Spanish with the Cuban people they photographed, they were able to communicate through the images that they shot and then showed them on their camera’s LCD screen.

Photographer: Ron Herman

Many of my alumni have commented that because of the embargo, they didn’t know how Cubans would greet Americans. They quickly realized that Cubans differentiate between American people and the politics between our two governments, and that they are as curious about us as we are about them. Often you can find American flags or other American symbols displayed in local shops.

Several photographers have returned with me on subsequent trips to Cuba. They too have fallen in love with Cuba. Over the course of multiple trips, we have developed relationships with the people we met and photographed. Many of the alumni and myself have returned to Cuba with prints of the images that we shot of them and their family, which are always warmly received.

Cuban friend receiving prints shot on a previous trip. Photographer: Mary Ellen Kaschub

After returning home, it is always great to share our travel stories with each other and relive our Cuban adventure through each other’s images. Even though we were photographing in the same locations together, it is always fun to see how differently each person saw and visually recorded the experience.

I am looking forward to returning to Cuba this Spring to lead another exciting customized reality tour for photographers (March 30 – April 13, 2013) in addition to a LGBT trip (May 9-19, 2013) centered on IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia) and its related events in Havana and Cienfuegos.



Check out this lively video about Ron Herman’s Cuba trips:

Ron Herman is a photographer and Chair of the Photography Department at Foothill College located in Los Altos Hills, CA.


1 Comment

  1. U. McKay

    I enjoyed your images of Cuba. I visited Cuba with my Cuban daughter-in-law in 1996. I would like to return as part of a photographer’s group. In my opinion it is the prettiest island in the Caribbean.

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