I recently returned from leading a fantastic photo tour/workshop to Cuba. Several months ago the Santa Fe Workshops asked me to lead a group of photographers to this small island just ninety miles off the coast of Florida. However, in our unfortunate and misguided political reality, it might as well be a million.
Because of the embargo that was placed in October of 1960, we are not allowed to travel directly to Cuba. Having said that, the Santa Fe Workshops has set up a person-to-person cultural exchange program whereas people can travel to this exciting and romantic country with special visas. These visas are for the purpose of exchanging ideas and sharing the different aspects of each countries cultures relating specifically to the arts and the artists living there; whether they be photographers, writers, dancers, or musicians. The management team at Santa Fe have been doing this for years, and have developed a very good working relationship with the government. As a result they have become adept at making the Cuban experience a life long memory.
I’ve been leading workshops since the eighties, and I can tell you that this was one of if not the most memorable experiences I’ve ever been involved in. The way it was handled was to be expected from Santa Fe, but it far exceeded my expectations. Our Cuban guide and the three Cuban photographers that always traveled with us were professional, courteous, knowledgeable in Cuban history, and were very talented photographers in their own right; also really good guys to be around.
Our producer, Kip Brundage, who works with and produces these Cuban workshops, has years of experience in the advertising and corporate community and one could not ask for a more qualified and approachable person.
With our first class accommodations and great restaurants to be found everywhere, not counting the freedom we had to explore Havana on our own, made the trip all the more memorable. I for one can’t wait to go back.
I had a full class, so this slideshow of photos taken strictly by my fellow photographers might be a little long, but as you’ll see the extra effort to view their work will be worth the time. For me, these photos have captured the essence of Cuba.
I hope to lead another group at some point, so stay tuned for future details. I can absolutely you one of the best experiences of your life whether you’re a photographer or you just want to see the country and perhaps make friends with these warm, photogenic, friendly, outgoing people.
Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. I still have a couple of spots left for my next “Springtime” workshop to be in Portugal next May 21st. Although my workshop to Myanmar in conjunction with Epic Photo Tours is full, as is my “Autumn in Provence” workshop so I’d be happy to place your name on a waiting list. In April of 2016, I’ll be taking a group to Viet Nam so although it’s a long way off, if you’re interested let me know.
Keep those photos and questions coming in to: AskJoeB@gmail.com.