CUBA PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR

 Wave after wave of convertible Buicks pass you by as you stroll looking for sunset views over the Malecon. Behind you, the faded, colonial architecture of Habana Vieja, slowly being restored brick-by-brick. Cigar smoke scents the air and all around, the sounds of the Buena Vista Social Club start to hum. This is our award-winning Cuba photography tour.

Come experience eleven days of turquoise Caribbean seas, lush tropical plantations, step-back-in-time museum towns and the unmissable Havana. We’ll snooze in some of the best, dine in local paladares and get to the very heart of both rural and urban.

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“Shoot Havana’s fading colonial architecture, learn techniques for close-ups of its famed murals, and take some black-and-whites at a cigar factory – before reviewing your pics over mojitos and checking out the local music scene. You’ll also head out to rural Cuba for portraits of tobacco farmers and capture the dusk light over the limestone mogote hills. The trip ends with a pop-up exhibition in Havana.”

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Highlights.

Like everything that happens in Cuba, the reported ‘US tourist invasion’ is taking it’s time. American travellers can only visit under strict visa restrictions, such as educational or professional visits – and tourism is still technically illegal. This has meant just a minor increase on numbers from last year, so this isle of intrigue, romance and politics quite unlike any other, is still muy autentica.

There are rousing rhythms, dancing in cobblestone streets (for real), wafting cigar smoke, a bounty of beaches and a Buena Vista Social Club soundtrack to accompany every style of journey. And ours takes in the highlights.

We’ve been running trips here for years – garnered awards for them even – and know all the best bars, restaurants, shooting locations and people in the know to make our photography tour to Cuba really rather special.

Meet with Roberto Salas, Castro’s personal photographer, at his house
Capture incredible street images of Habana Vieja; faded murals, crumbling buildings and of course those decrepit 50’s Buicks
Shoot professional cigar rollers, in an exclusive location frequented by celebs
Create timeless black-and-white portraits of tobacco farmers in Vinales
Craft panoramics of the stunning mogotes – limestone cliffs in lush plantations
Exclusive access to photograph the Cuban Royal Ballet in their classrooms*
Practice interior photography in one of Havana’s finest mansions
Try out sports photography in a famed outdoor boxing gym
Snap the hotel where Al Capone used to meet all the mafiosi
Try out documentary photography on a rickety old train deep into the Cuban countryside
Create images right out of the pages of travel magazines, in our dusk shoot in ancient Trinidad

Cuba Photography Tour Itinerary.

We’ll transport you right off the plane downtown to our 5 ****** hotel fronting the sea in downtown Havana, where you’ll get a first glimpse of the sights, sounds and jaw dropping architecture of this incredible city. Then after a restful sleep & leisurely breakfast, we’ll dive into the basics of camera control and operation – and head off to shoot some street scenes in the old town.

Later, we’ll get our first view of Cuban life (and catch some rays) in the back seat of a 1950’s convertible Buick and cruise along the Malecón towards Revolucion Square, to witness where Fidel used to address over a million Cubans in his famous rallies. You’ll get to shoot parts of Havana most tourists never see, stopping en route to practice your new found skills. Come evening, we’ll soak up the buzz at a local paladar – Cuban gourmet restaurants – and sample local delights in an elegant mansion setting which retains its original 1948 furniture, decor and artwork.

This morning, we’ll arise early, to shoot the vintage cars arriving in the main square, chance to get some incredible shots of these museum pieces in situ, then it’s off deep into Habana Vieja, and revere the incredible architecture, street scenes and life in this stunning part of Havana. You’ll try out some techniques in composition not found in pages of the monthly magazines, giving your images extra impact and interest.

Later, we’ll take you to a private cigar rolling house far from the tourist masses, and get your own cigar made to your exact requirements for a special souvenir. We’ll also swing by the house of Roberto Salas – Castro’s personal photographer – who will regale you with stories of Che & Fidels revolutionary adventures, and show you his incredible work.

Next day, we’re off to Vinales, popularly known as the ‘Garden of Cuba’. Here lush, hilly landscapes provide panoramic views over tobacco, coffee, sugar cane, oranges and avocados in an atmosphere of almost complete serenity. After a delicious lunch on an organic farm overlooking the Silencio valley, we’ll swing by a working tobacco farm, shoot some portraits of local farmers, and learn how to roll our own. We’ll then explore the scenic valleys further, punctuated by a series of limestone karst hill formations, or mogotes.

On our return, we’ll hold the first of our 1-on-1 sessions, spending time with you individually to assess you progress and give you tailored advice on ways to help take your images to that next level.

This morning, we’ll take a drive south east to Trinidad, a UNESCO-listed town and perfectly preserved Spanish colonial settlement where the clocks stopped in 1850 and have yet to restart. In the early 19th century, huge fortunes were amassed from the sugar trade, creating illustrious colonial-style mansions bedecked with Italian frescoes, Wedgwood china and French chandeliers. The shooting possibilities here are endless. You’ll get to see the rural Cuba en route, trying out your landscape skills,  then we’ll celebrate our arrival with a ‘Canchanchara’ a chilled cocktail made with rum, honey and lime which is the speciality of Trinidad; later, we’ll swing by an open air acoustic concert in the heart of the old town, right under the stars.

Next day, up early the next day to catch the morning rays, we’ll take our seats on board our 1919 wooden-carriage train and journey to the once formidable Valle de Los Ingenios, the sugar-caned landscapes. In between shooting some glorious landscapes, here we’ll hold more 1-on-1’s – individual reviews of your images to date, observations on your photography style, plus ongoing support to take your work to that next level. That night, we’ll review the work on the big screen, giving you plenty of professional tips on how to improve your photographs.

Today, you’ll learn the art of black and white photography in the cobbled streets of ancient Trinidad – and understand how to tell stories using your photography. We’ll review images of past masters, then take to the streets, along with your tutor watching closeby, and craft some timeless images of a town steeped in history.

Next day is you time; perhaps you’d like to head off on ‘seafari’ to Cayo Blanco island, a tropical island famed for its powder white beaches, stunning coral – and lobster BBQ’s! Or  you could head for Playa Ancon, a precious ribbon of bleached white sand and crystal azure sea 12km from Trinidad; for the more energetic, head somewhere cooler and do some mountain trekking in the Topes de Collantes, 20 minutes north. This former Che hangout has breathtaking pine trails and culminates in a refreshing dip in the stunning El Cubano waterfall.

This morning, we’ll make our way back via the famous Bay of Pigs, and the incredible architecture of Cienfuegos. Here, and later at sunset in the dusky streets of old Havana, we’ll further develop our documentary photography skills, pictures that tell a story, and learn pro skills in narrative, positioning & engagement.

Next day, chance to go behind the scenes today of the real Cuba, on our guided photo walk to some of the most incredible locations in Havana – including a mix of shooting dancers at the Cuban National Ballet (*permission granted on the day), interiors at the finest and most beautiful private houses in Havana, portraits of artists in an artisan community west of the city, documentary B&Ws at a 50’s government owned ice cream parlour, still life in a hotel where Al Capone used to meet all the mafia bosses, plus sunset shots of boxers training in a stunning outdoor gym, and street documentary of life before the night starts in the backdrop of fading architecture, fifties automobiles and the faint whisper of music.

This is a smorgasbord of photographic delights, and chance to test all your new found talents behind the camera, before our final presentation and show of all our best images of the week, at our very own ‘pop-up’ photo exhibition over some refreshing mojitos.

lazy morning – with some free time to take in the last few glimpses of this incredible city – and chance to get some 1-on-1 feedback from our professionals on your progress, your emerging style and tips on where next to take your photography. We’ll share a final lunch together, before departing back to the airport for the flight home.

Cuba Photography Tour Details.

16 – 26 April, 2018
Spaces available

4 – 14 June, 2018
Spaces available

12 – 22 November, 2018
Spaces available

11 days. 10 nights. Starts and ends in Havana, Cuba.

£2445 sharing / £3065 single

Price includes 
11 days, 10 nights accommodation at the listed hotels, plus guide
11 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
Private audience with Roberto Salas at his house
Private entry to exclusive cigar rolling house, with cigar
Entry to the Royal Cuban Ballet (permission granted on the day)
Private photoshoot at a famous boxing gym in old Havana
Guided walk, with lunch, through the tobacco fields in Vinales
Private photoshoot inside one of Havana’s best interiors
All transfers to and from the airport
All transportation to shooting locations
Train ride through rural Cuba
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes international flights, lunch and dinner.

 

Virgin Atlantic fly direct from the UK into Havana, starting from £650. There are a multitude of other flights with minimal connections using KLM, Air France, Iberia and more, from £450.

"I had a fantastic time in Cuba last month with CE, my first group holiday of any kind & I was nervous but need not have worried! Hotels, guide, tutor & locations all excellent plus the company of a lovely bunch of fellow travellers made it a very enjoyable memorable trip! Thank you!"


Jo Wimbush, London