Sometimes the shot jumps out at you and you have to react quickly. You compose and shoot without conversation because you know it won’t last. After a burst of 3, 4, or 5 shots you look at your camera to see if you can refine the image. It’s then that you realize that you got caught. Caught in the act of capturing someone’s daily life. Most of the time they put up with it. Sometimes they flash you a smile or a Cuban two-fingered salute. Once in a while they yell, wave you off, demand money, or simply disappear. In those cases, I’ll try to make amends with small talk, gifts, or a CUC.
I love photographing in Havana. I get away with a lot.
Caught – the wave off.
Caught, but ……..
Caught – Cuban with a big knife.
…. and a smile,
so I approach …. (he’s still smiling)
Caught – two-fingered salute.
Caught – with a handful.
My landlady and friend Barbara Rosales was suffering from abdominal pain for days. Finally, her husband took her to the hospital where she was admitted for appendicitis. Unfortunately her appendix had already burst and she had to spend five days in the hospital after the surgery. On the third day I was invited to visit with her husband and son. I wanted photos, but I was sure that my camera would not be allowed into the building so I borrowed a cell phone. Because I read a lot, I was not surprised by what I saw. The building itself was in dis-repair, although it appeared as if work was in progress. After a very long wait for the elevator we arrived at the recovery ward, three rooms lined with beds. Initial impressions: old, understaffed, dirty, nurses not in uniform, and of course no privacy. This was definitely not the much vaunted model of socialist free healthcare that most are led to believe exists throughout the country.
To be fair, this was a very small neighborhood hospital, but I was assured that most hospitals for Cubans are similar and some are worse.
Drinking water in used soda bottles.
Guests wander everywhere.
Another ward through the doorway.
Barbara’s son helping her to move.
Barbara’s husband trying to make her more comfortable.
The next bed. Note the pillow.
The floor was filthy.
Barbara’s husband looking for an outlet with power inside the nurse’s station.
2nd floor area open to the sky.
2nd floor hallway
Two elevators (only one worked)
2nd floor area open to the sky
Outside in the entrance way.
Outside the entrance.
I like to observe people.
Often times what they do and how they do it can be entertaining.
For Cubans, hailing a cab is more like hitching a ride in the U.S. The taxis have routes that they drive all day long, So if one stops, you first have to ask if it’s going past where you want to go.
Instead of putting out a thumb, the favored method seems to be variations of finger waving.
One Finger Up. (optimist )
One finger down. (tired )
One finger hidden. ( gift offering ? )
Two fingers horizontal. ( confident )
The peace sign.
Four fingers horizontal. ( testing one’s nerves )
Four fingers vertical. ( the lazy method )
Two and Two. ( not easy, obviously a pro )
Ebaristo, my little Trinidad shoeshine friend recently complained that his hearing aid was no longer effective. I researched all the models and brought him the most powerful one I could find that was similar to what he had.
He was so appreciative that he quit for the day and invited me back to his home. I photographed him with his granddaughter and we drank coffee.