Colorful, captivating Cuba
Roger Hart, director of Michigan Photography, recently accompanied a group of students and professors from the School of Music, Theatre & Dance on a musical odyssey to Cuba. While he spent most of the week focusing on the students as they explored the rich Cuban culture, he did have a few moments to turn his cameras on some of the more colorful sights in the island nation. Enjoy! (All images and text by Roger Hart.)
Cubans love their cigars. I found this man chewing on this rather beaten-up looking Cohiba in Trinidad, and I had to photograph him.
We traveled from Trinidad in the south to Veradero in the north by bus and saw a lot of the interior of Cuba. This scene, again, was very representative of the different types of transportation Cubans use each day. How many people commute to work or school by way of a tractor-drawn wagon?
I love seeing the classic old car rolling out underneath the neon lights of the world-famous Tropicana. If it weren’t for the modern minivan in the background, this photo could have been taken in the 1950s.
Amidst the more than 5,500 images I shot during the week I spent in Cuba, this is among my favorites. The dirty street, the stray dog, the colorful buildings and what appears to be an old Kaiser – or maybe some Russian-made car, I was not able to identify it – all contribute to making this a memorable image for me.
One of the joys of getting up early each morning was watching the city come to life. I have no idea what this man was carrying but it looked heavy and it made two cameras and lenses seem a whole lot lighter.
Plymouth is known as an “orphan” car brand, i.e., one that is no longer in production. But the brand is well represented on the streets of Havana, including among many others, this old Plymouth, wearing its wounds, working the streets as a taxi.
Everywhere, it seems, there was a picture waiting for me. This woman was sitting on a balcony amidst the laundry above a busy downtown city street in central Havana. In Havana, street after street of beautiful architecture sits in a state of disrepair. I can only imagine what this must have looked like pre-revolution.
Horse-drawn wagons and pedal-powered taxis are a common sight on the cobblestone streets of Trinidad.
The city of Trinidad on the island’s southern coast was our second stop. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was founded in 1514 and features cobblestone streets and numerous Spanish colonial mansions. Another early morning walk produced this image of a mother and son off to begin their day.
As a “car guy” and former editor at Autoweek Magazine, I was delighted to see all the pre-1960 American cars. The way the owners of these cars have worked to keep the vehicles in working order was very interesting to see, along with all the different ways they customized them, including this one with the chrome wheels.
Art and commerce
The Prado, a wide walkway that leads from the Malecon up to the city center, becomes a showplace for local artists. It was a great place to people watch and to pick up an authentic souvenir.
So you think you can dance?
In Callejon de Hamel, an alley in Havana that is home to a famous rumba concert each Sunday, one of the spectators just couldn’t help but show his wicked dance moves.
Not far from the meat store I saw this flower vendor walking his cart/bicycle through the street. A slow shutter speed on the camera and a panning motion allowed me to keep the vendor in focus while showing motion in the bike’s wheels. Transportation in Cuba takes many different forms and while the country is known for all the pre-1959 American cars, many people walk, ride bikes, or use horses as their main form of transportation.
Each morning I got up early to explore the city before our scheduled program began. Not far from our hotel in the city center I saw this meat store open and ready for business. Not something I see very regularly in Ann Arbor.
Upon our arrival in Havana, we attended a reception on the roof of the hotel Parque Central. This was the second photo I made in Havana and the warm colors coming from the streetlights set the tone for a visually stimulating week working in Cuba.