© 2016 Joe Newman

Discover Cuba

Upcoming Trips

There may never be a better or more interesting time to photograph Cuba than now. Historic change is coming to the island and you don’t want to miss your chance to document life in final days of the Castro regime.

Our photo workshop will take you into the back streets of Centro Habana, where you will see how everyday Cubans live, work and play. This is not a vacation tour but a legitimate people-to-people educational experience. You’ll get a chance to talk to Cubans about their struggles to survive in a city where the average worker makes $24 a month. You’ll talk to them about their hopes for a brighter future and you’ll photograph them in one of the most interesting cities in the world.

Our workshops are designed to help you discover the real Cuba. Our workshops are coordinated with the help of local guides who are fluent in both Spanish and English.

While much of your time will be spent on building your street photography skills and techniques, you will also meet and have portrait sessions with Cubans of all walks of life, including dancers, musicians, artists and athletes. We’ll also venture outside of the city to visit farmers and rural communities.

We guarantee you will leave Cuba with a much deeper understanding and appreciation of Cuban people and culture.

Highlights

  • Our trip itineraries are crafted to give you the most complete photographic experience possible. There will be a mix of street photography, landscapes, portrait sessions and storytelling opportunities.
  • This is no cookie-cutter tour. Each of our trips has a unique itinerary, which is built as much as possible with the interests and skill levels of participants in mind.
  • Our trips are purposely limited to six to eight participants. We want you to get to know your fellow travelers — this is a shared experience, not a tour group.
  • Most of our trips are planned with a particular theme in mind.
  • We strive to provide you an authentic experience by avoiding state-run hotels and restaurants. Whenever possible, we’ll stay in private B&Bs and eat at private paladars.
  • Unlike most organized trips, you are more than welcome to opt out of any of the planned daily activities. In fact, when possible, we’ll even help you make alternate arrangements that fall within U.S. travel restrictions.

Sample Itinerary

Each trip has a unique itinerary but to get an idea of what we do, check out this post on our June 2016 trip.

FAQ

Is this a legal trip? Yes, you will be making this trip under the “people-to-people” exception to the current U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba. It’s an authentic experience that will give you a chance to talk to Cubans of all walks of life about their lives under the communist regime and their hopes for the future. (Be sure to read my recent Huffington Post blog)

When will I know the itinerary for this trip? Since each trip is unique, much of the itinerary is not finalized until a month before the trip. However, a rough sketch of the trip will be available by Aug. 1 with a more detailed draft available by the end of August.

Is airfare covered? Roundtrip air fare to Havana from either Miami or New York City will be part of the package. You will be responsible for getting to the departure city in time to make your connections, including the cost of any necessary overnight accomodations there.

What are the accomodations like? This is not a five-star luxury trip. We’ll mostly be staying in private b&bs that have been vetted either by myself or by my colleagues in Cuba. In some cases, I’ve personally stayed in them. They are clean, safe and friendly. However, it’s Cuba and things aren’t always perfect. The water pressure won’t always be the best. Pillows are usually lumpy and mattresses might not be what you’re used to. On the other hand, you’ll get to see Cuba from a different perspective than you might if you were in a hotel full of tourists.

What’s the food like? Breakfast at the b&bs is almost always fresh fruit, eggs and bread. Sometimes there’s meat. Often not because of the difficulty of getting meat. Otherwise, food served at most private restaurants will be pork, chicken, fish, lobster and shrimp and occasionally beef. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the food, though if you maintain a vegetarian or vegan diet, we may have to make some special arrangements because green vegetables are not a staple at most meals.

What photography skill level do I need to participate? This is a great trip for photographers of all levels. For advanced and professional photographers, my role is to facilitate your photo shoots. For beginners, we’ll go slow and there will be plenty of time to talk about process — how to set up your shots, how to pose models, what the best camera settings are for the situation.

What kind of gear will I need? Gear is a very personal decision and really depends on your personal style and what you hope to get out of the trip. You could do the entire trip with a camera phone or a fixed-lens camera and come away with great photos. Personally, I like to take 35mm, 50mm and 85mm prime lenses. However, a single zoom lens that covers 24mm to 70mm would also work well. I would recommend a small travel tripod, one that fits into your roll aboard, for our sunrise and sunset photo sessions.

How much extra cash will I need? This will really depend on how much you intend to bring home. A quality box of cigars can run you anywhere from $150 to $250, while bottles of rum can cost $10 to $100. Currently, American credit cards do not work in Cuba, so you’ll need to bring enough cash to get through the trip. I would recommend between $500 and $1,500, depending on whether you’re planning to bring back rum and cigars.

Is it safe? Cuba is one of the safest countries I’ve traveled in. However, like all places, you need to use common sense and have situational awareness. Don’t flash a lot of cash and be aware that most people who approach you with the question “Where are you from?” are angling for some sort of cash donation from you.

How long have you been doing this? My December trip will be my fourth trip to Cuba and my second as a workshop leader. You can read some reviews from my most recent trip here.

I can’t make this trip, when is your next trip? I will be doing an “abandoned spaces” and landscape trip March 22-29. If there’s demand, I may also add a February trip.