Cuba: The Ultimate Road Trip

cuba road trip photography workshop

Photo © Mary Ann Levitt

Where the rubber meets the road.

Get out of Havana and take the ultimate road trip around Cuba! In our 2017 Cuba photography workshop, you’ll spend 10 full days photographing this incredible island nation, all while traveling in vintage American convertibles!

We will explore how one takes control in an environment that is foreign to us in almost every way. Beyond the language barrier, the surroundings, the poverty, and the anticipation can make it more difficult to get the photographs you’re after. How do you overcome these barriers? How do you tell the story of Cuba in photographs?

Your travel guides for this intimate, small-group adventure are veteran U.S.-Cuba cultural ambassador Jock McDonald and street photographer extraordinaire Stuart Schwartz, founder of The Image Flow. Jock and Stuart have spent much of their careers as advertising photographers, a task that makes one adept at breaking down barriers in order to complete the assignment. They will be joined by Ramses Batista, a well-established Cuban photographer who will also offer his view and guidance.

cuba road trip photography workshop

On our ultimate Cuba road trip we’ll make stops at a variety of towns and villages including a working tobacco plantation. Photo © Rebecca Keyes.

We want you to overcome any and all barriers you face in photography, to learn more about light and how to capture emotion in your imagery. We want you to be able to deal with space, to use the location to your advantage, and to feel comfortable approaching strangers with your camera. We’ll help you to refine your view through the camera and then again in the editing process. Furthermore, we want you to learn what you feel you need to learn.

Like no other Cuban workshop we are literally hitting the road—traveling across the middle of the country in vintage American automobiles. Last year we took a short road trip in the same manner, and it turned out to be the highlight of the trip for all of us. That short road trip has prompted us to do it again this year in a bigger fashion.

With our Cuban photographer and friend Ramses, we will take off from Havana with three cars and their designated drivers to explore both the sights seen by tourists and many more where tourists do not venture.

cuba road trip photography workshop

Cubans are known for their ability to fix up these classic American cars. Photo © Stuart Schwartz.

Our program on the road will span a wide swath of the country from Havana to Ciego de Avila in the middle of the island. On the way, we’ll spend time in the towns and cities of Matanzas, Cárdenas, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Sancti Spíritus, and Santa Clara.

In iconic Havana, we’ll spend time on the streets photographing the locals and capturing the rapidly changing profile of the city. On the road, we’ll stop to photograph along the way at a number of planned locations: a former sugar mill and plantation; Remedios, one of the oldest Spanish settlements on the island; a tobacco plantation; Cayo Coco, known for its colonies of pink flamingos; and other coastal fishing towns. Our small group will also allow us the flexibility to make unplanned At the end of the trip, we’ll have time to do final editing at the Hotel Nacional back in Havana.

This all-inclusive Cuba: The Ultimate Road Trip photography workshop will be limited to eight participants, offering a supportive 2:1 student-to-teacher ratio. The small group size will allow us to move freely and naturally while the instructors add their knowledge and expertise of both Cuba and the photographic process.

Casa particular

While on the road in Cuba, we’ll stay in private homes known as “casa particulars.” Photo © Jock McDonald.

General itinerary:

Cuba can be a place of shifting sands. This itinerary gives an idea of what the workshop week will include. Exact dates and times are subject to change.

Day 1: Arrival in Havana

Day 2: Shooting on the streets of Havana

Day 3: Travel by vintage American autos to Matanzas, photographing along the way

Day 4: Shooting in the area around Matanzas and Cárdenas

Day 5: Travel to Cienfuegos, photographing along the way

Day 6: Shooting in the area around Cienfuegos

Day 7: Travel to Trinidad with stops in Casilda and La Boca

cuba road trip map

Click the map to enlarge.

Day 8: Photographing in and around Trinidad

Day 9: Travel to Ciego de Ávila via Sancti Spíritus

Day 10: Photographing in the general area of Ciego de Ávila

Day 11: Travel to Santa Clara, photographing along the way

Day 12: Return to Havana

Day 13: Relax and edit at the Hotel Nacional

Day 14: Depart to the USA

“To visit Cuba is to embark upon a pilgrimage of discovery. But each time I feel I am getting near to understanding, the island changes, keeping her deeper discoveries in reserve. It is a place that now rages in my blood, a place I will never know as the Cuban do. But they have opened their hearts to me, and let me have a glimpse at the deeper waters of the human soul.”

—Jock McDonald, Cuba, June 30, 2009

Price: $8450

Please review our Registration Terms & Conditions

Please call 415-388-3569 for more information or to reserve a spot.

February 9 – 22, 2017

Who should take this workshop: 

This workshop is for advanced amateur and professional photographers.

Pertinent details:

  • Maximum eight (8) students
  • Rather than suggesting a specific camera format, we suggest the photographer bring the camera they choose as being their best camera for such a trip
  • We encourage each participant to bring a laptop for editing their work
  • In Havana, we’ll stay at the Hotel Nacional
  • On the road, we’ll stay in private Cuban homes known as “casa particulars”

Workshop tuition includes:

  • U.S. travel visa
  • Cuban travel visa
  • Hotel accommodations
  • Breakfast and dinner each day
  • Airport transfers
  • Photography instruction in variety of shooting situations and group critiques throughout the trip

Not included:

  • Airfare
  • Some mid-day meals
  • Excess baggage fees (if any)
  • Alcohol
  • Souvenirs and other incidentals not listed above
  • Housekeeping Gratuities

This workshop is authorized as a people-to-people exchange program by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Washington, D.C. 20220, License No. CT-2014-310332-1.

What Makes Workshops at The Image Flow Different: 

  • Our workshops are some of the smallest groups you’ll find, allowing us to move freely and intimately.
  • More workshop, less tour. We travel to make photos and to learn about photography. Every activity is in service of making new images.
  • Travel is all-inclusive, which means that once you arrive on site, you can leave your wallet hidden safely away.
Roger King Cuba photography exhibition

Photo © Roger King

For Further Reading:


Instructor Bios:

Jock McDonaldOriginally from Vancouver, Jock McDonald opened his photography and film studio in San Francisco in 1986. He is a self-taught photographer whose work has achieved national and international critical acclaim for its distinctive use of wit, humor, pathos, and mystery. McDonald’s work has been widely published and exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, including exhibitions in the U.S., Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, and Cuba.

 

 

Stuart Schwartz

Stuart Schwartz graduated from the Art Center in 1979 and then spent 35 years as an advertising photographer in the U.S. and Europe. Stuart is comfortable working in the studio, on location, and with all sizes of productions; he recently returned from Tokyo where he was shooting with long-time client Applied Materials. Stuart’s personal work spans a variety situations and styles, from street photography to mixed-media. He first traveled to Cuba in 2006.