Sebastião Salgado, Frans Lanting, and I all ended up last night in Birmingham UK. It was a cold and rainy night so we elected to have dinner together in our hotel restaurant with no other customers. Empty. Not the place to be. Perfect! The food wasn’t so bad and we all had a chance to catch up without interference. We’ve all been friends since we started in this crazy biz with big dreams, yet we rarely have a chance to meet. The big warm. We are all presenters at The Photography Show here in Birmingham. Cheers to my dear friends🎈
“She’s making movies on location. She don’t know what it means. But the music makes her want to be the story. And the story was whatever was the song”… Mark Knophler
McCartney sings via jukebox light “Love Me Do” as Olivia feels it. El Batey bar in Old San Juan is a dream bar for photographers day or night. The jukebox, the light, the whole laid back scene a favorite of mine. I always love shooting OSJ yet on Sunday I flip culturally. Off to the U.K. I go. First to Birmingham and The Photography Show where I present on March 21. Better check their website www.photographyshow.com . Then I am in London at the Barbican March 24. Last, yet most important, is my 3 day Magnum @magnumphotos workshop March 22-24 in London. See Magnum website for more info. In my head McCartney sings “Band on the Run”.
My workshop class is rocking here in Old San Juan. I’m shooting too. Two of my muses for BeachGames in the last 2 years came together here. Olivia and Liaryz had not met prior. Yet they both fell into the spirit of the story.
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. 3-13-17. I took a break from my students for a couple of hours and just played tourist around El Moro at days end. No agenda. The warm evening breeze a sweet reward.
Havana. 3-5-17. My new Cuban friend, ballerina Yanet Abreu, has traveled the world as part of a ballet troupe. Talented Cuban artists, athletes, and scientists have always been given special travel privilege. Here in Havana now Yanet has worked as my photo assistant since I met her at the renowned National School of Ballet. Why would a ballet dancer be a photo assistant? Because this sparkling intelligent woman has a special personality with people. I never need an assistant who can aid with equipment. I only need someone who is good at helping make friends with those I may want to photograph. Sure I can do it alone, yet it’s always easier and more fun if I have a local collaborator. Yanet and her father graciously made dinner for me in their home last night. What a special treat for me. The big warm. For me photography is not just getting a picture. The friends I make which give me an insight to the culture is the best treasure of all and my real world education. I must leave Cuba soon. Happy/sad goodbyes. Thanks Yanet for being a good friend. I do hope we meet again.
Havana. 3-5-17. Yesterday was too “cold” to go to the beach. I was disappointed for my BeachGames essay, because Sunday is always THE day for me to shoot. Families and friends gathered, relaxed, nobody stressed. Yet the bad weather became my friend in the late afternoon. A cold front had moved in creating giant waves crashing against the historic iconic Malecon. The locals love it. Driving their 60 and 70 year old cars through the salt spray and hanging with friends for a cerveza Cristal. For magazine photography I need a shot like this. A scene setter. El Moro, the Spanish fortress in the background places the location without being a postcard shot. To do this the first thing I do is to sit down. Become a customer. Order a beer I don’t drink, yet it’s in my left hand and my camera in the right. Why? Because I can see that I will have about 5 minutes max to shoot this. Light magic. No time to make friends with the people at this table. As a tourist gringo photographer I must blend in fast. Appear casual and non threatening in a few seconds. If I looked like a pro photog or a tourist off a cruise ship, I’d be dead in this type of scene. I always tell my students DON’T MOVE. Stay put in a chosen scene. This won’t be my best picture in Havana, yet it does give me a springboard to move on to more esoteric work. I live for scenes like this. Makes me feel a part. Rewarding from both a cultural and personal perspective. Viva Cuba!
Havana. 3-4-17. Wandering the streets of Havana at night always looks like a movie set. Mysterious, moody, yet full of life. Kathryn Boyd Brolin shoots a corner shop with a Leica Q. My story to photograph was her shooting and engaging with Cubans. She’s a non stop voracious shooter. I’m sure you will see her work on BurnMagazine soon. Tech note: I was shooting my Fuji XT2 at 12,500 ISO and pleased with the look. The last time I shot extensively in Cuba I was working with ISO 50 film. Both work.
Havana. 3-5-17. Kathryn @kathrynbrolin generally doesn’t smoke. Yet she and her husband actor @joshbrolin do enjoy an occasional cigar at home. So here in Cuba, Kathryn and I shared a few small Cohibas. Pretty much goes with the territory. Kathryn was helping me by being a character for my upcoming BeachGames zine and I was mentoring her with her photography. She’s on the case shooting with gusto at every moment. Clearly she’s a terrific subject, yet for me simply a sensitive and caring human being with a big heart. Thanks Kathryn for collaborating. Serendipity led us to some amazing situations. Like minded souls take life to it’s peaks. Gracias mi amiga nueva, tu eres la mejor🎈
Havana. 3-4-17. For a few days I’ve been shooting Kathryn Boyd Brolin and Yanet Abreu for my BeachGames work. They bonded immediately and made working with them such a pleasure. This was Kathryn’s first trip to Cuba. Not her last. She’s an L.A.pro model/actress and enthusiastic photographer. Yanet is a pro Cuban classical ballet dancer and travels the world. We had all just finished lunch at La Guarida and we were simply checking out the new rooftop scene.