Let me start by saying Cuba is a photographer's dream. The people, architecture, culture, colors, and vibes are unmatched by any other country. However, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to get the most out of your trip to Cuba.
1. Download an Audio Walking Tour
Old Havana is filled with many winding streets and historic buildings. Without a map or guide, it can be easy to get lost in the city. In order to see the highlights and not get lost along the way, it helps to have a handy walking tour with a map. The GPSmyCity app has a Havana city walking tour, complete with turn-by-turn directions that allows you to discover all the beauty and hidden gems of Havana at your own pace. Download the tour to your smartphone prior to the trip and have it handy in order to get the most out of your city adventures.
2. Plan for little to no internet access.
During my trip to Cuba in February 2016, there was very limited internet access. A few hotels (particularly the Melia) charged between $3-5 USD per hour for internet. The Melia hotels had internet stores in the lobby where the internet cards could be purchased. This makes uploading photos to the internet and backing up your camera a challenge. Be sure to have an alternative way of uploading and backing up your data, such as a laptop or wireless USB flash drive. Plan to use the internet time to backup your photos to iCloud, Google, Dropbox, or other storage services.
3. Bring Multiple Cameras and Memory Cards
As Murphy's Law indicates: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. I cannot stress how important it is to bring extra memory cards and a spare camera. Make sure to back up after each photo shoot, and shoot on multiple cameras. This way, if your camera gets lost, damaged, or stolen, then you will have another camera to use. The best camera is one with removable storage. In Cuba, you will be hard-pressed to find a store that sells memory cards. Bring more than you think you will need.
4. Photographing People
Cuba is one of the most amazing countries for photographing people. The people are photogenic, charismatic, expressive, and usually unaware that they are being photographed. This translates into amazing photos. That being said, it is best be to respectful. Ask in advance before photographing people. Be prepared to give them some money for the photo.
5. Plan for Camera Safety
Always use a case to store your camera so it doesn't get harmed in transit. While on the street, wrap your camera around your neck or wrist so it doesn't fall, or even worse - get stolen. Use a cross body bag for your camera storage (preferably one that doesn't look like a camera bag). Store your camera in your hotel safe when not using it.
6. Charge Your Equipment
In Cuba, the electrical outlets use the European plugs. Bring a few multiple electrical universal power converters with you. Also, bring a portable charger for your phone as there will be little to no access to electrical charging outlets throughout the day besides at your hotel room.
7. Venture Off the Beaten Path
One of the things I love about Cuba is that the entire country has an off-the-beaten-path feel. The streets are filled with nooks and crannies with amazing details. Get up close and zoom in. I got my best photos when I ventured down side-streets and headed out of the city center a bit.
8. Find the Rooftops
Some of my best photos of Cuba were from the roofs of buildings. The tower in the Plaza Mayor in Trinidad, for example had the best views of the surrounding mountains. In Havana, some of the restaurants were on rooftop terraces which offered a bird's eye view of the city.
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We are two adventurous young professionals who turned our passion for travel into a blog to help others travel more.