Photographing Cuba With DroboAmbassador Jean Noir

For years, Cuba was one of the countries that I really wanted to travel to so I could get to know the culture and people. In May 2019, it came true and my trip to Havana and Trinidad was right at the door. I packed my Canon Bodies (EOS R & 5D III) and my main lenses (85mm & 24-70mm) and set off to Cuba.

Cuba is a land full of dreams, color, and open-hearted people. For two weeks I gathered many impressions of the country and pure inspiration for the local artists. It soon became clear to me that Cuba would not be just a photography trip or a pure master class, but an opportunity to capture daily life with editorial photography.

Thanks to a friend, I had the opportunity to experience the real Havana and Trinidad, including boxing clubs, gyms, and more local spots (See images at the end of the page.) The friendliness and joie de vivre of a society that does not have much and faces daily challenges impressed me immensely. A country that is less than 100 miles away from the US, but in time has stood still somehow. My goal was to find a good balance between the editorial and life photography by making sure the moods and colors on every corner were captured. 

In general, editorial photography is used to show images that should “accompany” an editorial contribution. But as an artist, I wanted to tell stories, integrate my impressions, and capture feelings in my photographs.

Here is my procedure below that I follow when photographing editorial photography.

1. What do I want to tell and what impressions would I like to freeze in pixels to hold on?

2. Which team members should accompany me – including models, make-up artists, stylists, designers, assistants?

3. Creation of mood boards as an overview of inspirations, which can consist of pictures, music, texts or much more.

4. Joint team brainstorming for getting concrete plans.

5. Location scouting: Check which locations are suitable, with lighting and accreditation. (Especially the last point is often underestimated.)

6. Preparation for the shooting, including food, as it is also important to keep people motivated.

7. Carrying out the photoshoot from start to finish.

8. Post-processing including choice of favorites and final retouching.

9. Final backup of all pictures on my Drobo 5D3 and Drobo 8D.

My next trip to Cuba is already in planning, as I noticed the country is already showing small signs of economic interests and materialism, I can highly recommend a journey to Cuba to every photographer as long as it is still possible. Gathering impressions of the land and the people will ground you and appreciate the little things in life.

By partnering with Drobo, I have reliable storage systems in place where I can store all those impressions and memories without losing them, and look back at them in 20 years.

Note from the author:

In times of higher, faster, further in the mass photographic market and social media, it is not always easy to stay true to yourself and your style – or even to find it. There is a great temptation to photograph what the masses expect.  Your own feelings and impulses are, consciously or unconsciously, usually kept in the background: perfectionism and beauty dominate – putting the mirror of the real in the closet and following the mainstream. But photography offers much more! Jean Noir’s lectures offer the opportunity to discover just that. He lets you immerse yourself in a special way of working. The goal is to create moments that are deliberately imperfect but can freeze eternity in pixels.

Find out more about Jean Noir workshops.