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Cuba Photography Workshop – April 2023

Event Details

  • From: April 15, 2023
  • To: April 23, 2023
  • Starting at: 06:00 PM
  • Finishing at: 12:00 PM

A Cuba photography workshop is a great way to explore the mystery, beauty and passion of the island nation. Join professional photographers Loren Fisher and Sarah McGarghan as you photograph Cuba’s culture from off the beaten path and well known scenes. You’ll have an incredible journey to the dynamic cities of Havana and Trinidad.

During our nine days in Cuba you’ll witness the country’s vibrant energy, learn about the island’s history and how rapid political change is now manifesting itself in Havana, a place where time stood still. Not only will you be making great photos, you will see traditional Cuban life, while enjoying great Cuban food, drink and vitality along the way.

Loren is working with a Latin-based tour company that is experienced in leading photographers in Cuba and their U.S. representative and fellow photographer Sarah McGarghan, who has been to Cuba several times, will be joining us. They have handpicked our guides, all of whom speak perfect English and love to share their culture with insight and passion.

We will travel together in one van which assures you get to know the other participants and engage in great conversation. We will be staying in casa particulars, the casas we are staying in are essentially privately owned mini boutique hotels. They are private homes that are now B&Bs. You will have your own room with bathroom and will get to know the local host.

Our Itinerary (subject to change)

Day 1 Havana:  Orientation around Casa     
After a midday arrival you will be picked up at the airport and escorted back to our casa. After freshening up, you will have a tour of the neighborhood to familiarize yourself with the area. Overnight in Havana.

Day 2 Havana: City tour of visual places, Jardines del la Tropical
Today you will have a walking tour of Havana. We will take it slow as there are many places to photograph along the way. We’ll go to places such as Plaza de Revolution, Central Havana, and Old Town. In the afternoon we will take you out to the Jardines de la Tropical, which is an awesome site to spend time photographing architecture, people, flowers of all sorts and hopefully people dancing! Overnight in Havana.

Day 3 Havana: Fusterlandia, Boat ride, Fortress, Skyline, Harbor, Photographing Cars in Park
After breakfast, we will head to Jaimanitas, or Fusterlandia, named after Cuban painter and sculptor José Fuster. This incredible haven is created within a fishing town on the outskirts of Havana. We will travel to Fuster’s village where he took over 10 years to flamboyantly rebuild and decorate this seaside village. Jaimanitas is now a Gaudi-esque work of public art where Fuster has refurbished over 80 houses with ornate murals and the mosaic domes to suit the personality of his neighbors. A donation in all our names will be made to the upkeep of Fusterlandia. We will then head to Parque Almendares. Developed from 1920-1930 in the vision of an Olmstead Park (Central Park in NYC), this green corridor with its majestic trees, lush vegetation and flowing river is now the site of Santeria rituals. It is a fascinating area that begs to be documented through the lens. Then we will take a small ferry across the harbor that will be filled with locals, their wares, and hopefully a chicken or two! We will be picked up by our van and transported along the coast where we will be able to take advantage of photographing the port and the city’s skyline. In the afternoon we will line up some classic cars to be photographed with the perfect backdrop of Havana’s gritty streets, along the Malecon as well as inside Havana’s “Central Park” or anywhere else we may have scouted out! Overnight in Havana.

Day 4 Varadero:  Hershey, Matanzas
We have an early morning departure for an extremely interesting day! Our first stop will be to the old Hershey factory. Built in 1916 this sugar mill was at the time the most advanced factory of its time. Now gutted shells of multiple buildings, it offers a unique opportunity to create some interesting and amazing images. As well, many of the original company-built houses remain with brightly painted clapboard siding and screened front porches. From there we’re on to Matanzas. Touted as the “Athens” of Cuba, Matanzas is dissected by a number of waterways. In the 1850’s when the slave trade was at its peak in Cuba, it was estimated that the population was over 70% slaves, many of whom were forced to work on the local sugar plantations. Hence, Matanzas has a rich heritage of cultural which lends a certain grittiness to the city. Overnight in Varadero.

Day 5 Trinidad:  Cardenas
On our way to Trinidad, we will stop in Cardenas, a wonderful sea-side town full of horse drawn carts and an easier way of life. Here you have the opportunity to photograph abandoned warehouses, a seldom used train station and its colonial buildings and many squares. Cardenas is a wonderful little town steeped in tradition. Then on to our final destination, Trinidad. Once there, and after freshening up from our ride, we will gather for a home cooked meal in one of the casas. After dinner those that are up for it can explore the town and maybe do some night street photography. Overnight in Trinidad.

Day 6 Trinidad:  Exploring Trinidad
Known for its colonial old town and cobblestone streets, Trinidad is full of old charm and a well-kept colonial atmosphere, a must-see city in Central Cuba. We will start the day off with a city tour, visiting such sites as the neo-baroque main square and the Plaza Mayor which is surrounded by grand colonial buildings. The afternoon will be reserved for time on your own when you might choose to explore the The Museo Romántico in the restored Palacio Brunet mansion or the Museo de Arquitectura Colonial which displays relics from the town’s sugar-producing era. Not to be missed is the beautiful Iglesia de la Santísima, a 19th-century cathedral with its vaulted ceiling and carved altars. Or, you may choose to just wander down the streets and photograph the kids playing baseball and soccer in the streets or the gentlemen vying to be the domino champion!

We will end the day by reconvening at the Casa De Musica where we can and sit down to order a cocktail and dinner while people watching from the wide stone staircase as the sun sets. Hopefully live traditional Cuban music will be playing to round out this amazing experience. Overnight in Trinidad.

Day 7 Trinidad and Countryside
Today we will move out of the city and into the countryside. With an early departure and passing by many local farms, hopefully we will be able to photograph farmers working their fields as we head to Valle de los Ingenios.

Declared in 1988, along with the city of Trinidad a World Heritage Site, Valle de los Ingenio is a set of vestiges of the once thriving Trinitarian sugar industry developed by Spanish emigrants from Jamaica.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the Valle de los Ingenios and adjacent area was the place with the largest sugar cane production in the world. This gave Trinidad an enormous economic position. Luxurious mansions were built and the socio-cultural panorama of the city became one of the richest on the island.

In this valley of 97 square miles, it has been estimated that in its most prosperous times almost 12,000 slaves were exploited. Interestingly, the most celebrated monument in the valley is the 142 foot tall Manaca Iznaga watchtower. This tower was designed to monitor the work of the slaves and control any attempt at escaping. In this open air museum, you can also see the houses-haciendas of the sugar mills, the stills, boiler and purge houses, dams and cisterns which were all used in the production of sugar. This is a natural environment worthy of being photographed.

Upon our return to Trinidad, we will have time to freshen up before heading to the quaint town of La Boca for dinner and sunset along the beach. Overnight in Trinidad.

Day 8 Havana: Head back to Havana via El Nicho
Off to El Nicho this morning. Located inside the Gran Parque Natural Topes de Collantes, el Nicho is a beautiful natural waterfall. Equally as interesting are the small villages and communities that are passed through on the way to the falls. 

Passing through dense forests filled with birds and lizards, you will come upon El Nicho which is best known for its large waterfall. This beautiful waterfall flows throughout the year, even during the dry season. The trail eventually goes beyond the waterfalls and ends at a scenic mirador that overlooks the valley. 

Once back in Havana we will gather for our farewell dinner. Overnight in Havana.

Day 9 Depart Cuba
Depending on your departure time, one final morning walk photographing the neighborhood and then we take you to the airport for your flight home.

Who should attend:

Anyone interested in the Cuban culture and wanting to make memorable pictures of a place that has had limited access for Americans in the last half century. Your photographic experience doesn’t matter, even if you shoot entirely with an iPhone you’ll come away with amazing photos. Loren and Sarah will be available at all times for professional photography instruction. There will be a good deal of walking, getting around in Cuba, especially Havana, isn’t always easy so many times we’ll be walking to locations rather than taking our van. 

What’s included:

  • Professional photography instruction with two professional photographers
  • All airport transfers
  • All accommodations
  • All breakfasts and 2 dinners
  • Minivan plus driver, offering ample room for you and your photography gear
  • Single occupancy lodging (a $240 per person discount is available for couples traveling together)
  • English speaking guide
  • Entrance to all sites
  • Tips for driver and guide
  • Pre-trip planning assistance including flight suggestions and help with visa requirements.

Not included:

  • Airfare
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas or other documents required for entrance into Cuba
  • Alcohol
  • Purchasing of personal items
  • Meals other than indicated above

Date

April 15-23, 2023

Rates

Registration is $4100. Previous clients: $3700. Registration fee includes professional photography instruction, pre-trip planning, single occupancy lodging, ground transportation and some meals. It does not include airfare to Cuba, alcohol, snacks, beverages or personal items. Rates are net, per person, in U.S. dollars. 

Maximum group size: 8

Photo Equipment

You’ll want to have a wide angle, telephoto and possibly a macro lens. Make sure you have lots of memory cards, spare batteries and charger and maybe a polarizer filter. Since we’ll be doing a good deal of walking you’ll want to have a backpack or another way to carry your equipment. While we will be in safe areas, it is always wise while traveling to keep you camera and lenses out of sight. Loren will be shooting extensively with a tripod but that may not be for you. If you bring a tripod you’ll want a sturdy tripod, don’t skimp here either on quality or size. Stay away from light “travel tripods” since we are going be shooting things you probably won’t see again in your lifetime and getting a fuzzy photo because of shaky tripod would be criminal. If you aren’t absolutely sure of everything that your camera does, bring your instruction manual so we can help you fix any problems.

Deposits and Cancellations

Notice of your cancellation must be made in writing, at which time the following refunds are offered:
• 90 days or more before workshop: Full workshop refund minus the deposit. Your deposit will be refunded if your spot can be filled.
• 90 or fewer days before workshop: no refund guaranteed. Your payments, minus credit card fees, will be refunded if your spot can be filled.

No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a workshop. Workshops are sold as a package only.

If a workshop is cancelled, you will receive a full refund of any money paid. But if workshop must be cancelled, LorenPhotos, LLC, will not be held responsible for your other expenses, such as airline ticket, that may be associated with the cancelled workshop. It is highly recommended that you purchase trip insurance to be safe. Cuban requires you to have international medical insurance. It isn’t expensive and available through your airline. We’ll provide guidance if you need it.

About Loren Fisher

This workshop is being led by Loren Fisher, who has been a professional photographer since 1978. He worked at seven newspapers including USA Today, is a past president of the New Jersey chapter of ASMP, was an adjunct professor at Rutgers University and sells his fine art photography at his gallery in Woodstock, Vermont. He has lead dozens of workshops in places like Iceland, Peru, Chile, Italy, France, Guatemala, Florida, Oregon, New York, Vermont, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Boston and Washington, D.C. He has published two photography books “Pope John Paul II: An American Celebration” and “Branson Backstage.” Loren has been to 50 states and over 20 countries and lives in Woodstock, VT.

About Sarah McGarghan

Sarah McGarghan, professional photographer, past president of the Vermont Professional Photographers Association and tour operator, is passionate about traveling. Through her many visits to Cuba she has discovered the most amazing people and places. Most recently she took her husband, rented a car and journeyed around Cuba’s less known areas. Together, they traveled some 900 miles along glorious back roads visiting small communities and larger cities. Each place they stopped was more enriching than the last! Sarah will be there to coordinate all aspects of the trip and to ensure your trip to Cuba will not be soon forgotten.

What else you need to know

Once you register, you will receive more information about the trip. It includes suggestions for traveling in Cuba including photo equipment and clothing. It is highly recommended that you have trip insurance and evacuation insurance in case of sickness or an emergency. With the current political climate in both the U.S. and Cuba we can’t be assured of anything in advance.

Questions? Email Loren at Loren@LorenPhotos.com or call/text 802-332-6611.


Register now