I just got back from a 10 days trip to Cuba. It’s been two years from my last visit.

Cuba is changing, slow, in it’s own pace but it’s changing. More and more tourists are flooding the country and Cuba is doing whatever it takes to cash out the growing interest. New fancy hotels pop all around, along with shops and other facilities which are designated for tourists only, construction work is taking place all over the cities centers.

There are also internal changes, the local residents are given more rights. The can now open small businesses, buy houses and cars, even travel abroad. New home appliances stores pop here and there. But it looks like the average resident can’t really afford any of that and for the most part they invest in modern cloths, at least to look rich when they go out to socialize. To make ends meet, many of the residents depend on tourists as well, trying to sell all types of services and products, from cigar (fake or real) to their own body.

But Cuba is Cuba and in many parts of the country and even on the outskirts of the big and changing cities, life is still the same, it seems like progress is not reaching everywhere. For good and bad. As a visitor, an outsider and a photographer there is a mixed feeling about all these changes, there is a dilemma – do we wish for Cuba to stay the same as it was before (post revolution) or do we want to see change and progress and better lives for the Cuban people. The big question that needs to be asked is, Do these changes really give the people a better lives? Are they more happy? For now the answer is not very clear. It is no secret that many are waiting for an era to pass and for a big change, but the current small changes sometimes feel that they do more wrong then good to the small people.

© Street Photography by Sagi Kortler

Winds of Change – The famous “Che” icon disintegrating as a local guy with a modern, western look passes by. Cienfuegos, Cuba 2013

This is Cuba in 2013 through my eyes:

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Comments
  1. ckponderings says:

    Great image and great wording. I’m going to Cuba for the first time at the end of April, and am really looking forward to it (hints and tips warmly welcomed!). 🙂

  2. Femke Gielkens says:

    beautifull pictures, I wish I could visit Cuba one day, i’m really looking forward to it!

  3. Absolutely amazing! Thankyou!

  4. Geert says:

    Hi sagi. Great Photos! How do you get so close to people? It seems like you were allowed to photograph in their homes and private lives. I wonder how you manage to do that – Just do it and walk on, make a conversation, joke, ask permission, pay for it? And were you there 10 days to photograph or was it a side event next to a business trip? Thanks for answering. I really admire your direct and clear style.

    • Getting close is how I photograph, it something that needs to be worked on, to gain the confidence and to develop a body language that is not intimidating. Usually a smile is all that it takes. Cuba is an exceptional place in this regards as the people are very nice and laid back, they don’t mind being photographed and they even liked it. They will invite you in or you can ask to go in, in most cases you won’t hear “no”. I don’t pay for my photograph, in Cuba I’ll sometimes give small gifts like candy for the kids, soap for the women and pens or lighters for the men, I will only give that after I take the pictures as a token of thanks, not before as a bribe. Some ask for money, I don’t play along and I don’t take the photo.

      I was there for photography only.

      Cheers,
      Sagi

  5. Phil Gordon says:

    Love the colours,thanks for sharing.

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