Monday, February 7, 2011

Street Photography

I had no experience in street photography prior to the trip to Cotorro, Cuba. While in Cotorro I had to do a lot of walking; in fact that was my primary mode of transportation while visiting. Obviously this was an incredible opportunity to photograph life in Cuba. Here’s the rub…

Street photography is something that always interested me but I wasn’t sure how to get started. From the photographer’s perspective it can feel very intrusive as you photograph the lives of people you don’t know (at least for me it does). That comes from a feeling that the privacy of the individual is being violated. I mean, here you are walking along and some guy with a monster camera starts taking photos…  Many photographers say that there is no sense of privacy while you are in a public area. I know legally (in the US) that is the case but I often feel there is a moral issue to address.

While in Cotorro I did find that the universal signal of “can I take your photo” was effective. What is the signal? Hold the camera up, look at the individual, and point to the camera. In my experience 100% of the time they are just fine with that. I did use the universal signal a few times but quickly found that the result was a canned photograph.

I decided that this was a once in a life time trip and that photographing the real streets of Cuba was something I needed to do.  If there was any opposition then I could explain it to the individual and probably be just fine (with the help of the translator of course). I didn’t encounter anyone who had an issue with their photograph being taken.  There was one official that took interest when I was shooting portraits near a school.  Once it was explained that the school was not in the photograph all was well. The rule I learned quick was; If it looks official it is off limits!

I hope you have enjoyed these photographs. Drop me a comment and let me know what you thing.

More to come!!

You can see more of the images captured while in Cuba here:


  1. I have exactly the same dilemma and as a consequence I don't really take many photographs that capture that "daily life" kind of atmosphere. But I followed your link to your other Cuba pictures and there are some real gems in there so I'm definitely glad that you didn't hold back!

  2. It is a hard one to overcome for sure. Thanks for going and taking a look. I have a gallery showing of these coming up on May 7th. I will be posting official press releases in April.

    The trip was a very positive experience for me and helped me overcome some of my fears for street photography. Sill, there is that nagging in the back of my head. I truly hope it stays there forever because it is that nagging that will keep me empathetic to another’s life. Some might say that it limits my abilities... I am okay with that. :-)

  3. Wow, so a school is off limits. Makes sense, because it so in this country, too.

    Thank you for taking the photos in Cuba and posting them here and on your site. Glad the universal sign worked for you!