I woke up this morning to hear Fidel Castro is gone. I only photographed him twice during my time in Cuba in the late 90’s , here donning an uncharacteristic suit and tie as he honored a visit by Pope John Paul. Fidel was mostly hated in Miami by Cuban exiles and mostly loved in Cuba. For sure a controversial world leader who successfully defied the U.S. during his entire regime. He never gave up on his socialist ideals. I will return to Cuba in February to get a feel for Cuba now. I haven’t been on the island for 10 years. When people ask me to choose where I love photographing the most, for sure Cuba rises to the top of the list. While Fidel for sure always kept his anti US rhetoric on the front burner, at the very same time was wide open to international foreign visitors including Americans. Like many Cubans Fidel loved Americans albeit not the government after a time . After all it was the US who helped him crank up his revolution in the first place, later turning on him when he nationalized banks and businesses and forced many Cubans to Miami. It’s complicated to say the least. In any case Fidel never backed down and was never was overthrown. A hero in most of Latin America and yet his death is celebrated in Miami by those who were forced off the island during his revolution. All I know is that I’ve never met anyone who didn’t cherish their visit to Cuba.
Author Archive for david alan harvey
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When I was a kid I lived in my imagination. Like most kids. It didn’t take much for me to imagine myself as Robinson Crusoe stranded on an island or Huckleberry Finn on a journey down the river. I could run off into the woods and be lost in my own made up adventure. Also a time to think about who I really was and what I might try to become. Alone. I made it all up in my head. In the woods and dunes not far from where I just took this picture. When I fell in love with photography it happened in these woods and dunes. Photography allowed me to create a reality out of my imagination. With a camera I could make a physical tactile object that proved my fantasies were “real”. Not much has changed for me now as an “adult”. My real life adventures surpassed my pretending. I realized that if I could think of it, I could do it. Very much to my surprise. So when life gets chaotic as it always does, I head for these dunes and live oaks to think. Why wouldn’t I ? It worked for me as a child, it works for me now. I often travel to exotic places. Scroll back on this IG stream. Yet no matter where I am, no matter how fantastic the place might be, in the back of my head I’m dreaming to be here. I’m stuck here. The source.
Outer Banks NC. Nov 12, 2016. Down here in the outer banks we’ve got strip malls, some bad architectural choices, and too much tourist traffic in summer. BUT within 5 minutes of anywhere you can be in the “middle of nowhere”. Either by boat by car or on foot. I’m sitting on the tarmac at LaGuardia as I write this caption , yet am headed for this beach solace. Wind and water shape this super thin strip of sand where a few of us have decided to live. Geologically precarious by nature’s design. The place literally changes daily. Any map of this island is literally out of date within 24 hours. We move. We gain sand in one place we lose sand in another. No such thing as stabilized. Geologically New York is also a barrier island just like the outer banks. Only difference is that on our island we are zoned for max building height of 35 feet. I love both NYC and OBX. At this moment though I’m dreaming the solitude.
Havana, Cuba teenagers. From my book CUBA. Young photographers often ask me how I get close to people. It’s easy. I usually know them. I rarely photograph random “strangers”. In this case I ride in the passenger seat, picked up off the highway as a hitchhiker after my rental car broke down. These super friendly teenagers gave me a ride, putting me in the front seat out of courtesy. We had a two hour ride to Havana, so by the time we got there, we were friends of course. During most of the ride I chatted with the driver who picked me up. The music was playing so loud I couldn’t really talk much with those in back. Yet I decided to shoot. I didn’t really have much else to do. The windows were tinted, the light awful in the car so I used a small strobe and bounced it off the interior roof. Hardly ideal. Yet turning bad things into good things is definitely the role of today’s best documentary photographers . I have very fond memories of Cuba and will return for the first time in 10 years to do a photo essay workshop with the Santa Fe Workshops. Our workshop “Open Window” will be in Havana: February 19-27, 2017 @santafeworkshops February it will be freezing for most of us in the north and so a perfect time to combine some warm weather with what promises to be a very exciting workshop. Few subjects have tugged at me quite like Cuba. The history, the culture, and mostly the people themselves. I have a whole new project to do in Cuba and will start it within this Santa Fe Workshops program. I’m only a good mentor if I’m also shooting seriously myself. My students pick up on this and often tell me that 5 minutes shooting with me is better than 5 hours of class critique. Well they need both. We will do both. Join me in Havana in February. If you track my Snapchats and IG Stories and see student work published on @burnmagazine , you will already know I try always to create a lifetime experience for all. #havanaopenwindow #photographcuba