Cuba Havana Photo Tour – once in a lifetime adventure

cuba havana photo tour once in a lifetime adventure

Cuba is a tropical paradise with a storied past, offering a unique view of a world few have been able to see. Photographing gives us a rare opportunity to capture it’s warm people alongside it’s natural beauty and stunning architecture. Laid back Caribbean Island culture mixed with the big-city life of Havana, where vintage American cars from the 40’s and 50’s roll right by you on Havana’s Malecon. Cuba is a candy store for photographers.

Cuba Havana Photo Tour – once a lifetime adventure

Cuba Havana Photo Tour - once in a lifetime adventure

Figueredo’s 7-day Photo Adventure provides an in-depth exploration of the backstreets of Havana and exotic locale. Figueredo will open your mind to a vanishing world only a few ever get to see. Learn from him how to discover the soul of Cuba by opening the hearts ond souls of the local people! And his unique way of photographing ordinary people will impress you. It is likely you may get invited into a local home by people you have never met before. It’s the warmth of the Cuban culture.

Volker Figueredo Véliz is not a typical photographer who only travels to Cuba to lead photography tours. He is much more than this. Figueredo has made Havana his home since 2014 and has been traveling to Cuba for more than 13 years. The Photographer is married to a Cuban woman and live an authentic Cuban life and culture. He speaks German, English and Spanish which allows him to easily set up wonderful photographic opportunities. Figueredo also integrates Cuban friends and families into his tour, visiting their homes and talking about authentic Cuban life.

We just finished our last photo tour and made wonderful new friends: 

“Thank you, my friend, for your tutelage. You opened doors for me, both physically and mentally that no one else could have. I am in your debt. This one week with you and your wonderful woman Somaida exceeded our expectations by far! “
Oliver Johnson 
San Antonio, Texas 

 

The story behind the photo!

Leander, 36 years old
La Habana, Cuba 2015

I decided to write a little more about the pictures I take. You must know that I never take photos from drunken or helpless people only to get a spectacular photo. But every picture has it’s own story. And quite often, the picture is only a little part of the story. “Life in Cuba is fun, music, dance and every weekend is a big party” as some Cuba experts here try to convey…… But the reality is different!

This is the story of 36 years old Leander. He lost his leg when he had to search explosives and landmines near Guantanamo four years ago. But he did not only loose his leg, his soul is tattered, too! What the photo does not show: His body is covered with scars that he himself inflicted with a knife because of the injured soul. Life can be cruel…….

2015 © Figueredo

Heladeria Coppelia

I breathe the air of freedom, as I sit in the “maquina” and enjoy it to live here in Havana. Of course I do realize that the Cubans have a different opinion here. Anyway, the Coppelia is always a worthwhile goal for me if I want to experience the new Cuba. I often wonder why every day thousands of people queuing up here then – to be let together with a bunch of other people – some point later today.

If you ever come to Havana (2nd)

… you must take a ride with a „maquina“. A „maquina“ is a very old car that follows a certain route during the day and always returns back again. It is a taxi thought only for Cubans and the car is most times in a very bad technical condition. But this does not mean that tourists are not allowed to take a Cuban taxi. It is quite cheap: the fare from Havana to Marianau (approx. 12km) cost around 20 Pesos Cubanos, which is 80 CUC – Cents (or $ -Cents) – less than a dollar. A ride from Havana Parque Central to Vedado costs only 10 Peso Cubanos, which is equivalent to 40 CUC Cents.

You should experience a „maquina“ because it is worth every Peso it costs. But if you think that six people in a car is too many be prepared to lift your but at the next stop. Life in a „maquina“ can be very exciting.

2015 © Figueredo

If you ever come to Havana (1st)

… you must take a ride with a Bici-Taxi. But before you start your trip through Havana you should ask the „cochero“ for the price. For a normal fare you pay around 1 – 2 CUC. I met a woman from Europe at her first day in Cuba and she was very excited to make a bici-taxi ride in the early morning. When the bici-taxi stopped after ten minutes she had to pay 15CUC – she did not ask for the price and negotiate before the start. 15CUC is tremendous much money for a ten minutes drive.

A bici-taxi driver makes approximately 20 CUC a day. If a „taxista“ has earned 20CUC he normally stops working for the rest of the day. But sometimes he needs to work longer because he has got a ticket from the „cavallito“ (Police) because he drove the wrong direction into a one way street. Or he puts on his powerful Ghetto –Blaster in Havana Centro where music on a bici taxi is not allowed. If he cannot (or will not) pay the penalty, the bici-taxi is confiscated by the Police and the owner has to go into jail until the bill is payed by the family.

You can imagine that the working day for the above bici-taxi-driver was very, very short!

2015 © Figueredo

The secret of an ever lasting love

I met Carlos and his wife Lourdes today in a bodega in Vibora Park outside of Havana. Cubans can get sugar, rice, salt, black beans, coffee, rum, matches and other things necessary for their daily life for little money by using their „Libretta“. The blackboard at the wall shows the prices in Pesos Cubanos and when to expect the delivery of other things.
We had a chat together and I bought some cheap rum for us three. Carlos (74) and Lourdes (69) are married since more than fourtyeight years, they told me. They have two childen, a son and a daughter, who both also live in Cuba. After a while I asked them what the secret is for such a long marriage. Carlos replied that he loves his lady very much and he would marry her again – if he had to decide today. I congratulated them and before I left, Lourdes took me aside and whispered me the real secret: „He had three girlfriends during this time“ – she said with a twinkling in her eye!

2015 © Figueredo

Cuba is changing

Cuba is changing and some day, probably not too far from now, it will not exist anymore, as we know it. American cars from the Fifties and old ladies smoking big cigars will still be found in the streets of Havana, but only as a backdrop for nostalgia-hungry tourists. Havana decays faster than it can be obtained. The Cuban government is desperately looking for foreign currency and after President Obama recently eased the travel ban for American tourists, something new will soon dominate the streets. But still there remains some time to take precious photos from a bygone era in one of the most exciting cities of the world: Havana!

The HAVANA STREET LIFE & VINTAGE CUBA LEICA PHOTO TOUR provides the once-in –a-lifetime opportunity to explore this fascinating city with experienced and renowned international European photographer FIGUEREDO, who lives in Havana.

It aims to all those photographers, who want to understand the miracle of the LEICA M and who want to capture mastershots of an authentic Cuba. If participants are not LEICA M photographers at the time of the workshop, they should be prepared to become one. Cuba is currently in a rapid change but Havana still offers a unique setting to shoot with the best camera of the world the best photos of your life.

All participants will benefit from a very exciting mix of photo shooting opportunities with the group, as well as the possibility to make their own personal explorations. FIGUEREDO and his English speaking assistants provide an insight view of Havana, that tourists never see. Professional dance studios, where usually a complicated government authorization process is required, can be accessed with FIGUEREDO to shoot during the training sessions.

Photographers have exclusive access to the warm-up area of a boxing studio and shoot under available light conditions in a gym of the Cuban underground “Pumping Iron” scene. Visiting a Yoruba family and other fascinating aspects of Cuban life related to music and dance, arts and culture, provide photographers a “candy store” of shooting possibilities. Besides all of this, FIGUEREDO shows his Havana neighbourhood: stroll the famous Prado when artists exhibit their works and sometimes a spontaneous Tango dance lesson for Habaneros and “Extranjeros” is offered.

Each days program is splitted into a half day workshop with FIGUEREDO, showing you his unique locations and into a second part, where you will experience the main highlights of Havana including themes like Cigars & Rum, Hemingway, Classic Cars, Afro-Cuban Santeria, Tropicana and also an excursion to the countryside (Hershey) and to the beach. All mixed with good food at selected restaurants, some of them hidden gems not easy to find, where you can enjoy your cigar and a glass of well-aged rum in a nice and relaxing atmosphere. Not to forget the exciting Cuban nightlife, which you will discover during tours through the Havana Bar-, Jazz-, Salsa- and Club-Scene…

Last but not least: spouses and friends of photographers are also welcome, they can join the special program for companions.