Still Smiling After A Week in Cuba

"The people in Cuba have an innocence because they haven’t been exposed to the “real world.”  You see the physical manifestations of that with the old cars, the 50’s architecture – it’s been frozen in the late 50’s." 

"Every one is interesting."                                 - David Allen Harvey

My cousin told me she's loving seeing my recent Cuba photos because they "exude such joy."  That's how I felt while I was there - filled with joy.  The people may be monetarily impoverished but they are not inside wasting their lives watching TV or complaining on Facebook, they are out on the streets, living life, participating, sharing, dancing, making music, creating art, making the most of their lives.

I went on a Strobist X-Peditions Workshop earlier this month to Havana, Cuba. I've been following the Strobist blog since 2006 and have learned a lot from David Hobby in that time. He writes as well as he photographs and often I have just been entertained by his stories as a professional photographer (and good, honest, caring human being). At any rate, I jumped at the opportunity to travel to Cuba with him and his business partner Joe Newman

This trip went way beyond my expectations with daily classes designed to improve our photography skills (there were 12 of us at varying levels) and trips to a beautiful organic farm (Vista Hermosa) complete with munching on fresh sugar cane and guava - followed by the freshest Mojitos imaginable and a delicious farm-fresh luncheon.

While at the farm I rode a horse and we were not only entertained by a live band, but, they gave us an impromptu Salsa lesson and I had a blast dancing with some of my fellow photographers.

During the week, we also spent time in downtown Havana, visited a beautiful seaside village, Matanzas, went to Gimnasio De Boxeo Rafael Trejo where we watched Olympic boxers train and watched a spectacular practice of the National Ballet dancers. 

Ray Hamlet Quijano (El Morito) practicing at Gimnasio De Boxeo Rafael Trejo

All this and class every day with edits and critiques from David. Because of this awesome experience, I believe I am a better photographer today. 

I left with 5500 photos, unbelievable memories and new inspiration for focusing on my own stories in the future. 

The people of Cuba are warm, welcoming, happy people who appreciate one another and are eager to celebrate life.  So many of them asked my name and shared a precious moment with me, allowing me to photograph them.  If you care to see more of these photos, go to  

I am still smiling as I think back on the wonderful week I had and the fabulous experience that is Havana, Cuba. 


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