I taught a workshop in Cuba with Luis Alarcón and I think he is a fantastic photographer, a great teacher, a fun person to travel with. Taking his workshop will make you a better photographer and also give you an intimate and unique access to Cuba.
— Magdalena Solé, Oscar-winning photographer, Man on Wire
Cuba has long been an island of intrigue, and since the time of Fidel a virtual ‘planet’ unto itself, stuck in a 1950’s revolutionary time warp. The initial attraction for travel photographers is its colorful streets, rumbling old American cars, crumbling Spanish architecture, and tropical scenery.
But there is so much more waiting to be discovered under the surface, and no one better to show you the ropes than Luís Alarcón. Cuba is his life’s work; he’s not just dropping in once a year to lead a photo tour! Luis cites his marriage to an “extremely Cuban” national and 20-year residency as critical to his insider’s perspective. An outstanding photographer, storyteller and teacher originally from Spain, his modern westerner’s perspective makes him the perfect bridge to cross for those willing to go beyond the picture postcards and into the authentic heart of Cuba.
Please Note: This Cuba photo tour is authorized by the new June 4, 2019 U.S. travel sanctions under the ‘Support for the Cuban People’ license provision. Visa cost is included in the tour price, and we will deliver your visa diectly to you, whether traveling from the U.S. or from another country.
Will you still have plenty of classic, “picture postcard” opportunities? Of course! But you will also have the pleasure of going significantly deeper than you would on a typical Cuba photo tour, and who knows, perhaps discover a new and intriguing aspect of your own photography come to light.
Your Cuba photo tour / traveling workshop begins and ends in Havana, spending a total of four nights in this unforgettable city. In addition to the iconic places, you’ll get the opportunity to meet and photograph everyday Cubans in their homes; discover hidden communities; and take advantage of Luis’s very good nature to show you some special street photography locations. He’ll have a long list of photography surprises for you, don’t worry about that. 🙂
From Havana we drive to beautiful, bucolic Viñales, the most highly prized tobacco region in the world. It’s also a great place to experience the rural side of Cuban culture up close and personal. And for anyone who wants to try a Cuban cigar while photographing the harvest, please do so with our compliments!
After two nights in Viñales and a memory card change, we take the road to tropical Trinidad for three nights, via French colonial Cienfuegos. The popular and vibrant city, with its beautifully preserved Spanish buildings and horse carriages clippety-clopping along cobblestone streets, is also home to Cuba’s most lively music scene.
So – are you finally ready to explore the otherworldly life on Planet Cuba? And to take your photography to the next level in the process? There’s plenty of more details below so please have a gander and let us know soon!
Dates – Mar 20 – 29, 2020 (Spots open)
Photo Tour Leader – Luis Alarcón
Tour Price – $4780 USD
Single Supplement – $470
Minimum Deposit – $1500
Visas – Visa cost is included in the tour price, and we will arrange it for you. This includes travel to Cuba from the U.S., which is still perfectly legal and easy under the correct provision
Main Locations – Havana, Viñales, Cienfuegos, Trinidad
Accommodation – Wonderful Top Rated Cuban Bed & Breakfasts
Tour Type – Small group, photo tour workshop, 4 participant minimum, 10 maximum
Skill Level – Suitable for ALL skill levels, novice to advanced
Physical Difficulty – Light
Transportation – Late model air conditioned vans w/ plenty of space for each participant & gear.
Havana’s Famous Malecon Wall
Exotic Ballet Dancers Shoot in a Colonial Palace
Live Street Photography Workshop
The Beautiful Rural Tobacco Region of Viñales
Afro-Cuban Music & Street Dance
Magnificent Spanish & French Colonial Architecture
‘Planet Cuba’ Photo Tour Workshop
Saturday, the perfect time to arrive in Havana! We’ll meet today at 4:30 for a brief orientation before going out for a relaxed introduction to Havana street photography. Luis will offer techniques of humanistic photography including how to approach Cubans for street portraits. Then to the iconic boardwalk known as the Malecon Wall, always a great opportunity to interact with the Cuban people and take pictures.
Sunday morning street photography finds Havana quite lively. Eventually we will end up in Hamel Alley to rock & shoot an Afro-Cuban dance show. Hamel is a small street dedicated to artistic expression – painting, sculpture, and dance. After a great lunch, this afternoon will find us in some of Havana’s most hidden corners, even discovering a surprising bit of urban nature.
Day 3 – Havana – Beauties, Boxers & Streets Less Traveled
This morning we’ll visit a former colonial palace to photograph beautiful ballet dancers in an exotic setting that just oozes colonial Havana. Then for an exercise in contrast, we hit an Old Havana boxing gym where your doc-as art images will tell a story of the “sweet science” which is such a great source of pride for Cubans. The rest of the day we will dedicate to street, portrait and architectural photography away from the main tourists spots.
Day 4 – Havana – Viñales – Tobacco Road Goes Fishing
After breakfast we take a 3-hour drive to Viñales, a small town Pinar del Rio, famous as the best tobacco growing region in the world. February and March are special months for the collection of tobacco, the valleys are green and full of activity. This afternoon will go off the beaten path to photograph at a small fishing village, and then to visit the “charcoal burners” for some striking environmental portraiture opportunities.
Day 5 – Viñales – Cowboys, Farmers & Rural Landscapes
Today we enter the heart of the picturesque Viñales Valley to capture its essentce at one of the best times of the year. Farmers harvesting tobacco, twisting tobacco, cowboys on horseback, beautiful landscapes, etc. You’ll even get the chance to puff on Cuba’s world famous export, gratis, right there where it’s grown! For lunch we’ll enjoy a traditional guajira meal in a farmer’s home. This afternoon is small village street photography, then a sunset shoot with fantastic views from one of Cuba’s most authentic restaurants.
Day 6 – Viñales – Cienfuegos – Trinidad – The Road to Tropical Trinidad
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Trinidad is next, via French Colonial Cienfuegos. In Cienfuegos we’ll stop for lunch and then check out “real Cuban life” on it’s most interesting boulevard. Arrive Spanish colonial Trinidad this afternoon. The city is considered by many the crown jewel of tropical Cuba, and is the most festive and music oriented city in the country. In addition to the photography w/ Luis, here in such an artistically rich & fun oriented town, you will have plenty of free time if you so choose.
Day 7 – Trinidad – Colonial Streets, Panoramas & Photos Humanistic
Morning of friendly and fun street photography with colonial building backgrounds, street portraits, optional artist’s museum. During the afternoon we will visit the great Manaca Iznaga Tower which offers panoramic photographs of the valley and the surrounding neighborhoods. We’ll then walk one of those neighborhoods – well away from the tourist zones – and have the opportunity to interact with local families and make that special, uniquely Cuban kind of humanistic photography.
Day 8 – Trinidad – Jungle de Cubanito, Photographer’s Choice
This morning we get back to nature de Cubanito, in a nearby jungle where we’ll have the chance to photograph birds and scenes in the verdant forest with a river running through it. There’s a swimming hole at the end of the trek, so be prepared if you want to take a dip! Luis will have several photographic choices today, and free time is always an option for those so choosing. After dinner Luis will lead an optional urban night photography workshop, starting at our spectacular colonial restauarant w/ the best piña coladas in Cuba!
Day 9 – Trinidad – Havana – Havana Road Trip & Panoramas
Sleep in a little before breakfast this morning if you please, or get up with Luis and engage in some new location street photography. Then it will be time to head back to Havana, with photo stops and lunch en route. In Havana, visit a colonial penthouse for panoramic veiws of the city, other small photo sessions, and go to see a very interesting Afro-Cuban priest. Tonight will be your special Farewell Dinner at Luis’s favorite Havana restaurant.
Day 10 – Havana – Parts Unknown – Portfolio Reviews & Homeward Skies
Early morning of optional street shooting and/or portfolio review. Luis will have kept up with your progress along the way, and he’s more than happy to offer a final overview of your image making with specific advice for continuing on your chosen photographic path. Bid your fond farewells to Luis and the lovely B & B family, and be ready to be picked up at the appointed hour to catch your return flight (if you can bare to leave!) home. You’ll miss this planet, no doubt. Viva Cuba!