Naturally photogenic, openly friendly and one of the safest destinations we’ve visited, Cuba is a photographer’s dream. Here are some of Christina’s favourite shots from Cuba, plus our 5 top tips for taking photos in Cuba too.
Cuba’s fascinating cultural make-up, its political stance and its recent history has made this Caribbean island nation a unique travel destination.
It’s almost impossible to put your camera down as you explore Havana’s streets. The capital’s crumbling elegance, the Cubanos’ easy-going nature and the omnipresent beat of salsa and rumba music, not to mention the incredible quality of light here, are infectious.
It’s a recipe that makes you want to try again and again to capture the moment that sums up Cuba. It’s an impossible wish of course, but it’s so enchanting, you just can’t stop trying.
Check out our 5-minute video snapshot of Cuba – the city, the country and the beach:
Here are our top tips for shooting in Cuba, plus Christina’s favourite photos from one of our all-time top travel destinations:
Postcards from Cuba
5 tips for photography in Cuba
1. Be respectful
Ask for permission to photograph people if you’re working on your street photography. “¿Permiso?” (‘Permission?’) will result in a nod or a shake of the head, or also likely a proffered hand. Tipping a few CUCs will leave both parties happy.
Just because the scene is amazing and you really want that photograph of a local, remember what it’s like if someone aims a camera at you without asking.
2. Shoot early in the morning
If you just want photos of the architecture without tourists and or locals in your shot, just after sunrise is best. It’s calm and quiet even in the busiest parts of the capital. You’ll also be rewarded with a gentle, glowing light as the sun comes up.
3. Hit town at Golden Hour
Golden Hour – that time in the early evening when the sun’s setting and the yellows and reds really pop – is a well-known photography favourite. In Cuba, you get remarkable effects at this time of day, and it’s also great for lively street photography.
Golden Hour and Blue Hour change from day to day and place to place. This impressive app by AlpenGlow tells you exactly when and where the light will be every day.
4. Be careful what you’re shooting
Each country has different rules, customs and social norms for photography. In Cuba, please do not try to photograph military or police personnel, or government buildings.
You may well be asked to delete the images from your camera or phone, and in some instances the officials have been known to confiscate devices.
Also be aware that if locals ask to have their photos taken with you or by you, they will want money. Not much – just a couple of CUCs – but just so you know. They’re often dressed in bright ‘traditional’ Cuban clothes or toting large cigars, and you’ll see them in busy tourist areas.
5. Bring everything you need with you but be careful what you bring in
Make sure you have everything you need before you go to Cuba. Photography equipment will be expensive if it’s even available or compatible, and the same goes for memory. Don’t rely on internet speeds and availability for back-ups in Cuba either.
Remember that Cuba is still a relatively closed country and they don’t like anything that could be surveillance or media equipment. Don’t try and bring your drone into Cuba – or do so at your own risk. Anecdotal evidence suggests customs officials enjoy confiscating them and other high-tech gear.
Now, on with the postcards!
We love sharing our favourite photos in this ‘Postcards From…’ series. Here are some others.
And if you want more of our stories from Cuba – we have itineraries, guides and information posts all on this beautiful Caribbean nation – click here for our full Cuban library.
Now tell us, which was your favourite out of these postcards? Tell us in the comments below!