Pictures Remind Us of What We’ve Learned
I had many goals attached to my Cuba trip.
I wanted to do a good job for my employer who trusted me as a photo advisor to his clients. I needed to capture compelling images for the projects I had in the works. And I wanted to learn as much as possible about this mythical Caribbean island (at least it is for Americans of my generation). To accomplish these goals, I spent months of planning to make sure I was prepared for my 10 days abroad.
The forethought paid off handsomely. The group that I advised was responsive and enjoyable, and they made a lot of good photographs. A few of them wrote letters to my boss complementing my work.
The next two parts, however, are hooked together. Because I was working on a “people to people” tour, we spent a great deal of time meeting with artists, educators, and business folks. Plus, there were dozens of non-scheduled encounters in plazas, hotels, and restaurants.
These interactions impressed me. From these locals, I learned about their history, daily lives, views on government, and impressions of Americans. It was fascinating. And in most cases, I photographed them as part of our visit.
At the time, I was capturing their portraits because it’s what I do. I was an American photographer having a blast taking pictures in amazing cities such as Havana and Trinidad.
But when I returned home, those images took on new meanings. Not only did I enjoy looking at them as pure photographs, but they reminded me of the personalities of the people whom I had spent time with.
When I look at the photograph of the artist holding up his work for me, I remember how happy he was that I was purchasing it, and how he wanted to explain all the details associated with its creation.
The woman in traditional Cuban attire, who took my by the arm in an Old Havana plaza letting me know that she was available for a portrait, led to an enjoyable interaction that seems as fresh today as when we met. Again, all I have to do is look at the picture, and it all comes rushing back.
And the three amigos posing on the steps in Trinidad with their dog make me smile every time I look at their portrait. (And I think I’m a pretty good businessman. I’ve got nothing on them. They were a peso collecting machine.)
When I wrote Rocky Nook’s Guide to Photographing Cuba, my goal was to help you have an outstanding visit to Cuba… or anywhere else outside of your comfort zone. (The guide is free and you can download it right now.)
In the eBook, I talk about how to interact with your subjects and help you understand the expectations that they have of you. By educating yourself about the places you’re planning to visit, you’ll return home with pictures, yes, but more importantly, the memories attached to them.
And as a result, your trip will live forever.
Derrick Story is the photography evangelist for Rocky Nook Publishing.