Finally in 2017 I got to tick off one of my biggest boxes and photograph the streets of Cuba. These images have been taken over a period of four days around the streets of Havana. My Spanish speaking background really helped me engage with people on the streets.
The colorful backgrounds and the timeless streets were the most interesting things for me to photograph. This series has been shot with Kodak Portra (400, 160ISO) and Ilford 100ISO films in a Canon A1 and a Mamiya 645.
It is impossible not to be inspired whilst walking down the time capsule that is the streets of Havana, which was one of the most amazing cities in Central America and now seemingly forgotten.
Havana does not have lots of street art really but if you see any will most likely be related to the revolution.
It’s fascinating how people in Cuba have found a way to keep these classic cars alive. They cannot import parts from the states so through the years they have managed to either fabricate their own spare parts in Cuba or to adapt Russian made parts to these American classics.
Everybody avoids political conversation in Cuba. It was in this taxi ride that the driver explained to me;
“There is always someone listening and you have to be careful with what you say”
We spoke for the whole 2 hours andit wa such an interesting conversation. I’m Chilean and we were a communist nation which then became a fascist dictatorship before I was born so Cubans engaged really well with me and they know the story of my country better than I do. They are all so cultured.
There is a shortage of many things in Cuba and people will approach you to ask for basic things that we take for granted. Soap was the most asked for while I was there.
I always ask for permission before taking an image of someone. The Flower Vendor Lady (in the above image) initially said yes then later asked me for “2 CUC”s. Cuba has a dual currency system: the CUC (Cuban convertible Peso) is the designated currency for tourists and CUPs (Cuban Peso) are for locals. Tourists are only allowed to use CUCs and two prices are listed for everything a tourist price in CUCs and local prices in CUPs. Each currency has a different value so that tourists pay more for things. This results tourists paying a global price for things.
A coffee will set you back almost the same amount as back home in Australia. The CUC to Australian Dollar exchange rate was about 1:1 at the time, so this is why CUCs are really desirable to the locals.
Streets are not in the best shape but there are still lots of places to skate. It w as really interesting to see most kids holding the same skateboard and when I asked them about this they told me that there are only 3 different colors available, all with the same design.
She said no at first when I asked for an image, but when she realised that I spoke Spanish she agreed to the image and I gave them a bunch of pens that I was carrying. After this image was taken, lots of kids came out from the building to ask for pens.
About Felipe Molina Dorlhiac
Felipe started his career as a camera operator with 16 and 35 mm film cameras in films back in Chile, his native country. Twelve years ago he moved exclusively to still photography, specializing in portraits and travel photography. He has lived in Australia for over 10 years now, and is a working as a studio portrait photographer. His passion for travelling has never stopped and it has taken Felipe to over 40 countries and 90 cities around the world. This passion has turned into an addiction and he is always planning new destinations so stay tuned. Currently have been shooting exclusively on film emulsions.