Coming to Cuba is like stepping into a time capsule! You will feel compelled to be taking photos, lots of photos, along the way. It is also a little bit different from other destinations in some of the protocols, customs and other challenges you may need to consider before you start snapping away.
May be this goes without saying, but I guess just like common sense, common courtesy at times can be not so common these days. It may be that you see someone that looks intriguing for whatever reason, don’t just go and start snapping pictures of them. How would you like that?
Cubans are very friendly people, so if you ask for their permission to take their photo, they normally give it especially if you give them a small tip for it.
Bringing your photography gear
If you are a professional photographer and are in fact in Cuba to take professional photos for corporate purposes, you will generally need a visa that allows you to do so as opposed to a standard tourist card.
Regardless whether you are a professional or a keen amateur, if you are bringing a selection of professional equipment with you, like a tripod, lighting equipment and extra lenses, it is highly likely you will be quizzed about it upon arrival.
What about bringing a Drone
Bringing a drone… Let’s just forget that for the moment. Drone use is currently banned in Cuba without permission. Do not attempt to bring a drone into the country without prior permission as you will have your drone seized, and could possibly be arrested.
Somethings you just cannot photograph
There are some things in Cuba that should not be photographed. Do not take photos of any military or police personnel or buildings as this is strictly forbidden. It’s not as though you will get into a huge amount of trouble if you are caught, but you will be instructed to delete the photos, and we’ve heard cases of people having their cameras confiscated.
Some photos will cost you
You will find this at the entry of some of the attractions that to take photos will cost you a little extra. This is always noted at the entry, so if you want to snap away, you’ll need to pay the fee.
You may find that in some of the more touristy areas people will approach you to get photographed, generally, women who will be wearing traditional, vibrantly colored clothing. They will require a small fee – around 1-2 dollars to be in your photo.
It’s up to you whether or not you want to pay a small fee for a nice photo, but of course, posed photos such as this do not capture the authentic side of Cuba.
Consider the timing
If you want to limit the number of people in your street photography, you may need to head out at around 6am to avoid the crowd. Especially in the peak months. Those hours also bring a nice soft light with them.
Make sure you have storage
I mentioned this before as one of the tips, but it’s worth mentioning it here again. Make sure that you have either a memory card, or a way to transfer your photos onto your laptop or some other form of backup. There will be plenty to photograph and you may not be able to upload them anywhere during your time in Cuba, or buy storage whilst in-country, so make sure you bring additional memory cards with you.
Cuba is a safe country with an amazingly low crime rate, however, do not get complacent, especially if you have expensive camera gear. You should keep your camera in your camera bag unless it’s not actually in use, and a neck strap is another way to ensure that nobody can grab it.
Prepare for rain
That camera bag is important in Cuba for a different reason as well. Cuba is prone to brief yet intensive downpours, particularly during the west season. A camera bag ensures that your precious camera doesn’t become soaked if you happen to be trapped without shelter.
Wait Before Sharing
Just briefly touched on this, you may not be able to upload photos in an instant in Cuba as you can elsewhere. Wi-Fi is available, but is slow and only allows uploads of small to medium files, and can only be accessed at certain spots and on certain platforms. So be prepared not to be able to share your photos instantly.
Join one of our photography tours in Cuba and we take the guesswork out of your preparation, planning, and create a trip of a lifetime with you. With our local guides and photography experts, you will walk away with an amazing Cuba photography portfolio!