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Photographing Cuban Ballerinas

Location: Havana, Cuba

Lately I’ve been reminiscing about a trip that I took to Cuba a few years ago, and this particular blog post has been on my mind ever since I left that incredible island. I’m not sure what prompted me to FINALLY undertake creating this post; I think I was avoiding it partly because what if my memory was better than realty? What if these photos didn’t turn out as as well as I hoped they had?

I felt compelled to visit Cuba before the restrictions for American tourists were lifted.  In my misguided view of the tourism industry, I thought by Americans suddenly getting permission to visit, would change the country for forever.

Kirsten and I decided the best way to visit was via a photography workshop. We both figured that by doing so, it would provide us with the best opportunity to capture the very essence of Cuba.

While the workshop didn’t exactly pan out as we hoped it would, I remain grateful to this day that we did, purely because of one afternoon we spent photographing Cuban Ballerinas. Years later, I still think it provided some of my best photography of my life. For those few hours, I was completely and utterly inspired.

Our workshop was split into two groups of several people each, and we paired with a ballerina to photograph. We had the opportunity after a while to take turns for the sake of variety, but for that afternoon, I found my photographic muse. While I was still a novice, I was in the zone; I was able to process light, shadows and her movements so quickly and I couldn’t stop hitting the shutter button. Even though she didn’t speak English, we were able to communicate just enough to provide direction but let her organically pose with such beauty and elegance.

Of the thousands of photos I took that afternoon, I had a difficult time to cull them down. But finally, I’m happy to share with you the end results; I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. And if anyone happens to know the name of this particular ballerina, please do share in the comments below!

All photos are with my SONY A7II.