Cuba street photography

August 02, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

cuba street photography barber shopHavana Haircut

I was nervous making this picture, I don't mind admitting. I was also hung over, sweating and extremely hot but I had to get it. The reason, I think, is that this scene is a different world to the one I have lived in for the past four decades.

Taking a bicycle taxi through Havana Vieja I saw a group of young men crowded around a doorway looking in. I asked the driver to stop and I wandered over to see what was going on.

I don't speak Spanish but I suppose it was obvious from my red skin, sweat and blue eyes that I was a tourist. The men parted and offered me a view into the house. There, in a simple front room, was a young man sitting in a chair having his haircut. The barber was bare chested. It was stifling in the small room. A wall mounted fan blew the hot air around, providing a futile resistance against the humidity.

Before I knew it I had been ushered inside. The barber and his customer largely ignored me but I was encouraged by the group in the doorway to make some pictures. I'd left my big expensive camera in my room and taken my little Panasonic Lumix GF1. This picture presented itself as the customer was swung around to face me. I smiled, he glared, I composed the shot, focussed and recorded one of my favourite images to date. 

Later, over lunch I reviewed the images on the back of my camera and kicked myself for not having the guts to take my big camera. I was wrong; the Lumix was the perfect tool for the job. It is non-threatening, low profile, the image quality is easily good enough and it slips into a large pocket or small bag.  

I learnt some valuable lessons that morning -

  •  you have to push your natural fear to one side to make things happen
  • a pocket camera is good enough
  • a smile can bridge a language gap
  • life is to be found where people live and work rather than the tourist spots
  • don't drink rum until the early hours on your first night!

 


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