Oh, The Places You’ll Go

At the Santiago de Cuba airport the clocks on the mid-century wood-paneled walls are 30 minutes fast and our plane is 30 minutes late. Over at the check-in counter, agents show no urgency helping passengers check their baggage while gate agents quickly scan boarding passes and shuffle passengers on the aircraft. Many of the planes idling on the scorching hot runway are Soviet-era relics under constant repair by mechanics who hang out under the shade of the wing and check social media on their brand new smartphones.

For a country routinely described as “frozen in time,” Cubans more accurately straddle between two co-existing time periods that leave them stuck in the past yet on the cusp of modernity. Now that Raul Castro has planned to step down sometime next year there is a palpable feeling among ordinary Cubans that this is their moment for change—even though many are still wary of expressing political views counter to the official party line.

With this being my 10 year “anniversary” of my first visit to Cuba I felt strangely stuck between two time periods as well. In 2007 I was a 17-year-old who knew relatively little about photography (or Cuba) other than that I thought it was cool. To return as a 27-year-old getting paid to photograph in Cuba and teach 17-year-olds about photography felt surreal and inspiring at the same time. It sort of felt like living out a favorite childhood book of mine, Oh, The Places You’ll Go.

Considering Cuba is always looking to the past for inspiration, I thought I’d turn to my archives from 2007 and explore the very bad and mostly regrettable photos I took in Cuba that eventually convinced me to be a photographer. Surprisingly, I found that my curiosities as a photographer are largely unchanged. I still gravitate toward color, symmetry, action and portraits except with…um…quite a bit better execution.

So, here are some 2007 oldies that remind me of my new work from the past 2 weeks in Cuba.

2007

Cuba2007-6

2017

_Z3A8819.jpg

2007

Cuba2007-2

2017

_Z3A8874.jpg

2007

Cuba2007-12

2017

_Z3A8902

2007

Cuba2007-5

2017

_MG_8295

2007

Cuba2007-4

2017

_MG_8150

2007

Cuba2007-13

2017

_Z3A8597

2007

Cuba2007-1

2017

_Z3A8716

2007

Cuba2007-11

2017

Cuba2017-7

2007

Cuba2007-7

2017

_Z3A8197.jpg

And a few more of my favorites from the past couple weeks…

Cuba2017-5

Cuba2017-1

Cuba2017-6

Cuba2017-3

Cuba2017-9

Cuba2017-2

Cuba2017-4

Cuba2017-10

Cuba2017-8

Cuba2017-11

_Z3A8619

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