“Vanishing Cuba” with Michael Chinnici (Travel Workshop)
Photo © Michael Chinnici
December 3 – 11, 2022
This photography workshop and cultural adventure is operated by Photo Workshop Adventures (PWA) in collaboration with the Los Angeles Center for Photography (LACP). You will be traveling to Cuba on a “Support for the Cuban People” visa.
The LACP/PWA Vanishing Cuba Workshop is a special 9-Day Photo Tour and Cultural Adventure led by Photo Workshop Adventures photographer and CEO/Founder Michael Chinnici, author of Vanishing Cuba, a photo storytelling book showcasing an outstanding collection of images from his more than 26 trips to this island nation. The Getty Center, Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, Columbia University, NYU, LACP, and many more prestigious institutions have acquired this recently published book.
Michael will take you off the tourist grid as you explore Havana, Trinidad, Vinales, Cienfuegos, Regla, Vedado, and more. Michael integrates Cuban friends and families into his adventures, visiting their homes and businesses so that you can experience and photograph the real Cuba. Outside of Havana, you will be treated to a rural lifestyle that has gone unchanged for more than 60 years. Photographing Cuba offers us the rare opportunity to view a world few have been able to see. Cuba is a tropical paradise with a storied past. Laidback Caribbean Island culture mixed with the big-city life of Havana, where vintage American cars from the ’40s and ’50s roll past you on Havana’s Malecon.
Besides photography, we’ll be speaking with Cubans about daily life on the island, learning about the country’s unique political and economic system, and working side-by-side with Cuban photographers. This is a unique opportunity for LACP to collaborate with Michael and his photographic successes in Cuba.
Dec 03 (Sat): Arrive in Havana
We begin our “Vanishing Cuba Photo Adventure” with a walk through Old Havana’s historic district. We’ll have the opportunity to meet with many locals and capture some great street photography. In the evening, we celebrate with our Welcome Dinner at the award-winning Paladar San Cristobal, located in the heart of Central Havana. A taste of colonial Cuba, San Cristobal offers wonderful entries served on 19th-century china, surrounded by stacks of books, old antiques, and nostalgic black and white photographs. You can ask owner Carlos Cristóbal Márquez Valdés all about it. A favorite among many, including the Obamas, when they visited Cuba.
Dec 04 (Sun): Havana – Regla – La Fabrica de Arte
After breakfast, we take an early morning ferry across Havana Bay to the community of Regla, a working-class, Afro-Cuban community with a thriving local culture. Regla is especially known for its strong ties to Santería and other Afro-Cuban religions. You will experience a more relaxed and hidden slice of Havana. Regla is a photographic masterpiece. In the afternoon, we’ll visit a fishing village known for its catches of marlin and swordfish, a favorite of Hemingway’s.
Later in the evening, we will visit La Fabrica de Arte Cubana for live music, art, and photography following dinner. La Fabrica de Arte Cubana was founded by Afro-Cuban rock star X Alfonso, who has turned this into a meeting place for young and eclectic Cubans and foreigners.
Dec 05 (Mon): Havana – Boxers – Ballerina’s – Vedado Mansion – Classic Cars
We begin our day at a famous Havana boxing gym and community center run by local Cubans. Here we’ll enjoy a private photo session with Cuban boxers. Our private session will allow us to capture both environmental portraits and live-action sparring bouts after we’ll drive to Vedado. After, we’ll visit a “lost in time” centuries-old Cuban Mansion for a photography session with ballerinas in this nearby suburb. Built at the turn of the century, this home is truly a masterpiece and has remained untouched since the revolution in 1959.
After lunch, we will visit an American Classic Car restoration garage that has put together a fleet of over 20 pristine “Clasicos” (as Cubans refer to them), to provide professional car service to their clientele. Learn firsthand how they restore these classic American beauties from the 1950s. This setting makes for some amazing photography. Interacting with Cuban businesses and helping them learn how to improve is always our goal under “support for the Cuban people”.
Afterward, we’ll spend the afternoon in these beautifully restored cars, driving along the Malecón (Havana’s seawall), visiting the mansions in the Miramar neighborhood, and experiencing the bustle of Neptuno and San Lazaro streets in the city center.
Dec 06 (Tues): Vinales – Havana
After breakfast, we depart Havana for a day trip to Viñales Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. People don’t come to Viñales for the music or the mojitos; they come to dip indulgently into the natural world, hiking, horse-riding, or photographing some of the most beautiful landscapes in Cuba. In the valley, you’ll experience craggy limestone monoliths, and cigar-chewing guajiro’s driving their oxen and plowing through the rust-colored tobacco fields. Despite its longstanding love affair with tourism, this slow, relaxed, wonderfully traditional settlement is a place that refuses to put on a show. What you see here is what you get – an agricultural town where front doors are left wide open, and everyone knows everyone else. We’ll be talking with local farmers and learning about their lives. We’ll enjoy lunch at an organic farm with a stunning view of the valley. We’ll visit the family farm of a private tobacco grower known for their world-famous Cohiba cigars. We’ll enjoy a relaxing dinner in Old Havana upon our return to Havana.
Dec 07 (Wed): Old Havana – Art Deco – Malecón – La Guarida Paladar
After breakfast, we’ll explore Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander through the Plaza de Armas, a scenic tree-lined plaza formerly at the center of influence in Cuba. It is surrounded by many of the most historic structures in Havana and important monuments. Photograph the Plaza de San Francisco, a cobbled plaza surrounded by buildings dating from the 18th century, dominated by the baroque Iglesia and Convento de San Francisco dating from 1719. Visit the Plaza Vieja, surrounded by sumptuous houses of the Havana aristocracy from the 18th and 19th centuries. Visit Plaza de la Catedral de San Cristóbal de La Habana.
We will walk Prado Boulevard to the Malecón (seawall) in the late afternoon. On the weekends, the Malecón comes alive with thousands of Cubans chilling and enjoying the evening. We’ll walk the seawall and capture portraits and street images. We’ll meet with the owner of Malecón 663 and discuss her successful business model. Then set up for a sunset shoot, depending on the weather conditions.
We’ll end our last day in Havana with a dinner at La Guarida Paladar, famous for its delectable dining and as the location for the film “Strawberry and Chocolate.” It is housed on the third floor of a large, old townhouse carrying the charming ambiance of the early 1900s.
Dec 08 (Thur): Havana – Trinidad
After breakfast, we depart Havana for Trinidad, where we’ll check in to a lovely bed & breakfast located in the heart of the old city of Trinidad. The wonderful village of Trinidad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its cobblestoned streets, pastel-colored homes, and small-town feel. Built on the back of the 19th-century sugar and slave trade, Trinidad flourished. At its zenith, in 1827, one of the 56 sugar mills in the region harvested the biggest cane haul in the world — just under a million kilos of white pressed crystals. This enormous, conspicuous wealth shaped the town, and no expense was spared in fashioning the finest Spanish colonial mansions, plazas, and churches, which still stand testament to the vainglory of this profiteering era.
In the late afternoon, we will explore the city’s rural areas. Many areas are off the tourist grid and make for some beautiful photographic opportunities. If the sunset is looking right, we’ll shoot it from the top of the famous bell tower. We’ll enjoy a wonderful dinner at one of the many local paladars in the evening.
Dec 09 (Fri): Trinidad
We are up early for a sunrise photo walk through Trinidad. Here we will witness the city come to life (well before the tourists arrive). Not only is the light at its best, but the photographic opportunities are seemingly endless—afterward breakfast at our casa.
In the afternoon, we drive to the Valley de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can get a sense of the sugar mill lifestyle of the 19th century. Located just outside of Trinidad are three interconnected rural valleys – San Luis, Santa Rosa, and Meyer – that make up the Valley de los Ingenios. The former plantations, mill buildings, and other facilities and archaeological sites in the Valley de los Ingenios represent the richest and best-preserved testimony of the Caribbean sugar agro-industrial process of the 18th and 19th centuries and the slavery phenomenon associated with it. More than fifty sugar mills were in operation here at the industry’s peak in the 19th century, and in 1827 more than 11,000 slaves were working in the mills. A long, gradual decline in Cuba’s sugar industry accelerated significantly in the 1990s. We’ll set out for a twilight photo walk throughout downtown Trinidad in the late afternoon. After, we’ll enjoy dinner at one of the many local paladars.
Dec 10 (Sat): Trinidad – Cienfuegos – Havana
After an early morning walk in Trinidad, we depart for Cienfuegos. We’ll meet with a local photographer friend who will show us his unique technique for creating prints. He blends prints made in the darkroom with acids and other chemicals he can find throughout the home. We’ll enjoy lunch on the Punta Gorda, and a photo walk before continuing on the Havana. We are back in Havana by late afternoon, where we will spend our last night together. In the evening, we will enjoy our “Farewell Dinner” at one of our favorite private restaurants in Havana.
Dec 11 (Sun): Havana
Sunday morning, we meet for breakfast and our final discussion and photo review. After checkout, we will bid you farewell. The Cuban government and the airlines request that you check in at least 2.5 hours before your flight.
Photo Workshop Adventures provides 100% legal and compliant travel for U.S. Citizens under the U.S. Treasury Department’s OFAC “Support for the Cuban People” category.
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December 3-11, 2022
TUITION AND DEPOSIT
$7995 tuition and $1000 single supplement.
PAYMENT AND REFUND POLICY
A $1000 deposit is required to reserve space in the workshop. The balance is due four months prior to the start date. Refund terms and conditions can be viewed on the PWA website terms and conditions page. All refund requests must be submitted in writing via email to email@example.com
WHAT IS INCLUDED
All photography workshop instructions, guided photo walks and sessions, support for the Cuban people initiatives, cultural exchanges, all accommodations, local transportation, airport transfers in Havana, welcome and farewell dinners, breakfasts and four lunches.
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED
Airfare, visa, travel insurance, camera gear, and any meals that are not included, nor are any items of a personal nature. Guests will be required to transport themselves to and from Havana International Airport (HAV).
NUMBER OF GUESTS
Limited to 8 guests
SKILL LEVEL / EXPECTATIONS
This workshop is designed to accommodate all camera formats and all skill levels. We’ll be guiding you to the most photogenic locations carefully planned for the best light and aid you in mentally visualizing a scene before capturing the decisive moment. Our aim is to raise your awareness and spark your creativity so that you go home with images to be proud of and use your newfound skills to improve and expand your photographic technique in general. You will learn to turn an ordinary image into an extraordinary one by using your own creativity.
In addition, you will become knowledgeable about how to survey the landscape, utilize and approach your environment, photograph people indigenous to the region, and the cultural considerations and challenges of photographing in a foreign country. Our time together will include individual and group discussions, inspiring ideas, and great fun. Cuba offers more photographic opportunities than any other adventure we offer. Cuba is not to be missed!
WEATHER AND CLOTHING
The weather in December will be beautiful, with highs in the 80’s and lows in the 60” s. We suggest you bring good walking shoes and comfortable clothing. A mix of shirts and t-shirts, and casual dress clothes for dinners.
Flights to Havana can be booked with American Airlines, jetBlue, Southwest, and Spirit. You will be issued a visa by the airline at the departing gate for Havana. Visas cost between $50 and $100, depending on the airline. Some flights are direct, but many connect in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Tampa, FL.
As per U.S. law, we’ll be staying in lovely bed & breakfast’s throughout Cuba. B&B’s in Cuba are known as “Casas particulars” or “private homes.” Since the 1990s, Cuban families have been permitted to rent homes and/or rooms out of their family homes to foreigners, featuring comfortable accommodations with ensuite bathrooms and ample privacy; it’s a great way to interact with everyday Cubans.
We take the risk of COVID-19 very seriously. You’ll be required to comply with all requirements from the U.S. and Cuban governments. Currently, there is no proof of vaccination or negative PCR required for entry to CUBA. However, upon return to the United States, all U.S. citizens are required to show proof of vaccination and provide a negative PCR test. We will help organize this for you.
INSTRUCTOR CONTACT INFO:
Please contact Photo Workshop Adventures by email
– or telephone (888) 834-0288.
Photo © Michael Chinnici
Instructor: Michael Chinnici
Photo © Michael Chinnici
Photo © Michael Chinnici
Photo © Michael Chinnici