Photography Tales; Story Telling in Cuba

The reasons for photography whilst travelling is surely obvious, it helps bring back memories for us and to share these with family and friends.

Apparently it may even involve a degree of boasting and if involving social media; smoasting. Fortunately despite this trend this is not the prime motivator for most. The problem is that often whilst very pretty, many of the images are frankly boring and the people that we are attempting to share with soon lose interest.

Classic car and street scene in Havana on the Caribbean island of Cuba on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

A typical street scene in Havana Old Town

The images are often just of distant scenery, endless beaches and the odd building or monument, they fail to offer the viewer with any insight into the culture of the destination. The essence is missing and there isn’t any story from the country visited.

A small reptile in woodland near Baracoa, Cuba in the Caribbean on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Not all locals walk on two legs

Street vendor and pedi-bike in Trinidad on the Caribbean island of Cuba on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Garlic sellers and pedi-taxis are part of the scenery

This may seem unimportant for those taking pictures for personal reasons but I disagree. Looking back through collections of past journeys should provide snapshots both of the trip and the society. It is images of the culture which give a feel for the community and will help bring memories flooding back of special moments from a journey.

Street party at Camaguey carnival on Cuba in the Caribbean on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Getting some salsa on

It is especially important for those intending to publish the pictures on a website with several paragraphs of explanatory narrative. This is a travelogue! The top publishers understand this and the most popular sites have much more than endless sunsets to gaze at. Their images spark interest, they inform, they inspire and not merely envy.

Carnival time in Camaguey on Cuba in the Caribbean on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Gone fishing Cienfuegos style

Beautiful, interesting photographs are extremely important to a site, they are the bait, the honey which will attract readers. Many visitors merely flit around the internet; we know this. Good images will help capture their imagination, encouraging them to read the post. Regardless of how well the author may write if they fail to initially ‘grab’ a potential reader their amazing prose will remain unread; vivid, inspiring and interesting images are an essential tool.

My greatest excitement on any trip is discovering a busy street scene or bustling market place. The are many opportunities to capture moments of interest, snapshots of the society. I am like a hyperactive school kid, snapping away and attempting to capture as many of these moments as possible.

It also unfortunately means there is little opportunity to connect with the subjects but it is still important to try to get as close as possible. Taking pictures with a long telephoto lens may offer plenty of candid images but being ‘within’ the scene is preferable to me, getting up close and personal is important. I usually prefer being within a few metres, although sometimes it is necessary to include surroundings for context.

Candid images of people going about their everyday business is equally important. By becoming part of the action, usually means I’m accepted, and merely ignored. Taking plenty of images also increases the chances of a few acceptable shots.

A classic car down by the river in Baracoa on the Caribbean island of Cuba on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

The Cubans also know how to chill out

Fishing off the rocks in the Caribbean at Baracoa  on the island of Cuba on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Caribbean island of fishermen

All of these images are from Cuba, an amazing destination for photography with interesting scenes on almost every street corner. They hopefully manage to convey just a little of the culture to the viewer, telling stories about daily life on the island. By portraying some members of the community in everyday life they offer some insight. They also transport me back to moments within the tour and hopefully will take you there too.

Ffood shopping in Baracoa, Cuba in the Caribbean on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Popping to the local shops in Baracoa

Capturing the spirit of a destination is enjoyable, it is definitely what appeals to me most. Next time you are on a trip, by all means take plenty of those amazing sunsets on endless beaches but once in a while turn the camera on the society too. Your family, friends and memories will almost certainly appreciate it.

The busy streets of  Baracoa on the island of Cuba in the Caribbean on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

A typical busy street scene

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Comments 10

  1. Kenin - The Constant Rambler

    Being a Cuban American, I can say many of these shots are truly inspiring. They remind me of the snapshots I used to look at as a child as we sat around and listened to our parents tell stories of the “good old days”. It’s also a valuable lesson on capturing the essence of a culture. As someone relatively new to the travel blogging scene it’s very helpful.

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      Iain

      I am glad you like them Kenin and that they manage to transport you back to your childhood with family. It is also pleasing you found it useful, good luck with the blogging.

  2. Gina Stark

    Beautifully written and expressed and the photos of Cuba certainly DO inspire one to settle in a capture more of the cultural and societal goings on. Trouble with some well-traveled locales is, the goings-on are mobs of other travelers also trying to capture goings-on! 🙂 Thank you for this. You’re making me want to rummage to find my non-digital photos of my long-ago Cuba visit! Happy travels, always, Gina

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      Iain

      Thank you young lady 🙂 I am glad you like them and appreciate you taking the time to comment. When we eventually meet we’ll have to chat about our adventures in Cuba.

  3. Jeri

    Excellent advice! Thank you for the reminder — and the lovely photos!

    Because I write a blog about accessible travel, I try to include many photos from a wheelchair perspective. I should probably hand my camera to my wheelchair-using friend and let her capture some street scenes as well!

    Jeri
    anythingispossibletravel.wordpress.com

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      Iain

      Thank you Jeri, I’m sure you didn’t need much reminding.

      As for the wheelchair view photographs it sounds like a great idea, you maybe onto a winner.

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  4. Jannette

    I love everything about those photos.The colours, the enviroment,the people.But behind those photos there is also a sensitive ,,eye” that observes and decides when the momentum is.I like photos about the real life and yours are the proof that the most important thing is the person behind the camera.Very inspiring.

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      Author
      Iain

      Wow Jannette I am blown away and humbled by your kind words, thank you for taking the time to comment, I am just pleased you like the images.

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