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Photo Tips by Mike Rosen

FEBRUARY 2013


IN THIS ISSUE: CUBA, A FEAST FOR THE SENSES

Hi <<First Name>>,

Last December I was lucky enough to go on an introductory tour of Cuba. Bottom line: WOW! What a feast for the senses and for my camera. 

Cuba today is a throwback to the 1950s, but also displays a mish-mash of many foreign cultures (Spain, Russia and American high-rollers among many). Its buildings are amazingly varied but often appear like little more than facades propped up for a movie set. The art, music and dance scenes are colorful and vibrant, but the still centralized economy is a shambles. It isn't easy for ordinary Cubans to survive, so they must rely on a wide range of innovative odd jobs and hustling. But they are SO friendly, smiling, and good-natured that it was a total pleasure to be there for eight days. I hope to return. 

And anyone who wants to experience this unique land of time travel should get there soon, because I think it will eventually free up, become more westernized, and start to resemble a Caribbean outpost of Miami Beach. 

Photographically, the trip made me again realize the benefits of including people in my images. This might seem like "duh" in places like Havana and Cienfuegos, but I noticed many tourists taking long-range cityscape shots without zeroing in on the faces of the fascinating people. And most of the people I encountered encouraged me to photograph them; one group even begged me to take their picture but didn't want a copy or even care to see it.  

Below are six of my favorite images. All of them include people, either as the primary subject or in some way critical to the success of the photos. People add a sense of place, context, culture, scale and overall interest to photographs (even landscapes). Viewers, including you, will remember these images and want to see them again and again.


These two young ladies were chatting it up (not posing) on a Havana street. Note the colorful 
facade of the old colonial building and the use of the composition "rule of thirds," putting the primary subjects well off center.


Some music students at the Beny More Art School in Cienfuegos asked me to take their picture. The trick with portraits or groups is to make many photos, perhaps using your continuous shooting mode. One of them will likely have the most natural or animated faces, with all eyes open and no blurriness.  All Cuban schools through college are free, though kids often have a tough time finding a decent paying job after graduation. The 200 kids at this terrific arts school are very lucky to be there. They all seemed VERY talented.


1950s era cars are all over Cuba, some jalopies and some exquisitely restored. Many are outfitted with old Russian engines and other parts. I think the by-standers here, probably all under or unemployed youth, provide color, evidence of a struggling economy and much added interest as compared with an image of just the car. 


Most Cubans can't make it on their tiny incomes and inadequate ration books. So they resort to all sorts of entrepreneurial or underground means of augmenting their take-home pay. The sign on the burro of this disabled man in Trinidad says "For rent, photos 50 cents."



These charming seniors were showing us their dance routine at a community center in Santa Clara. We were sitting close, but I also used my zoom lens to reveal details of the faces and the lady's fan. 







Finally, this cool group of Santa Clara street musicians was REALLY good. I moved close enough to get some reasonable face detail, but I also liked the varied patterns of the cobblestone street and the building facades.

I hope these give you some sense of the sensual, fascinating, colorful and unique people of Cuba, and how putting them into nearly all your cityscapes enhances their appeal to you, your family and friends.

All the best,


Mike












 


 

 

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CHECK OUT MY OTHER CUBA PICTURES


You can view more of my favorite Cuba images by clicking HERE. Below is a view of one of the under-maintained, but beautiful old colonial buildings on a street in Havana.



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