If you live in the United States, Cuba is likely a bit of an enigma - a location that's so close, yet so far after having been off-limits to travel for so long.
That's now changed, and Cuba is changing as a result.
Where people from around the world have for decades been able to experience the vitality of Cuba, those of us that live in the U.S. can now take part in it as well.
For people like you and me that love photography, that means that Cuba is ripe for photography experiences the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time.
From street scenes to architecture to the friendly people that inhabit the island, there is no shortage of fodder for photography enthusiasts of all skill levels.
Let's take a closer look at a few things Cuba has to offer for photographers.
When to Go
Unless you already live in a hot, humid climate, you probably want to avoid visiting Cuba in the summer months.
Not only can it be unbearably hot, but the summer months are peak travel times for a lot of people, meaning you'll be among a sea of tourists that are visiting the island during their summer break.
Instead, plan your trip for the fall.
Doing so allows you to miss the brunt of the heat and the largest of the crowds.
In fact, early October is a prime time to visit this island nation.
You'll find that the weather is excellent and the vitality of the island is a nice introduction to the fall months.
What to Photograph: Street Scenes
Cuba certainly isn't lacking for street scenes that are bursting with life.
That means that you can walk down any street in Havana or Trinidad and find scenes of everyday life in Cuba that make for some excellent street photos.
The vibrant colors of many of the buildings in Cuba's cities make excellent backdrops for delightful portraits.
On curbsides throughout the city, you find locals with character and charm the likes of which you won't find anywhere else.
But portraits like the one above aren't the only thing you can document while wandering the streets of Havana or Trinidad.
As a bastion for 1950s and 60s American cars, Havana represents a unique opportunity to showcase the beauty of these old cars in the context of the upbeat feel of Havana.
Even at night when many other cities would be sleeping, you can find vignettes in which the lines and forms of classic American cars can be juxtaposed against the vibrancy of the buildings and the detail of the architecture.
And while you're in Havana, why not take part in a Classic Car Cruise and see the city from a convertible?
That gives you ample opportunities to see the sights and find things to document with your camera along the way.
What to Photograph: The Culture
There is life and vitality in Cuba that's hard to describe in words, but much easier to document in a photograph.
When you're in Cuba, finding subject matter that portrays that vitality should be one of your top priorities.
For a taste of the life of the pros, try taking part in a fashion shoot with gorgeous models in a beautiful setting. You might also find your way to a salsa studio to document the sexy and seductive dance of Cuba (and learn a few moves while you're at it!).
Another option is to get involved in Cuba's incredible music scene and create images that capture the essence of the island with images that portray local musicians and the role that music has in Cuba's culture.
Whatever you do, getting off the beaten path is highly recommended.
Only in the far corners of Havana, Trinidad, and the surrounding landscapes will you find the most authentic, genuine experiences as a traveler and a photographer.
What to Photograph: The Architecture
Just like its people and its music, Cuba's architecture is full of life.
And that's not just because of the incredible array of bold and saturated colors that adorn many of the buildings in cities like Havana and Trinidad.
There's an abundance of grand old colonial-era buildings in both Havana and Trinidad that have stood the test of time, but that have the wear and tear that make glorious backdrops like in the image above, or can serve as the primary subject of your photos too.
Something that's a specialty for Cuban artists are murals and street art, which only make the architecture on this island that much more of a draw for photographers.
How to Photograph Cuba
Sure, you can handle all the details of a trip to Cuba yourself and miss out on the opportunity to take the off-the-beaten-path approach I mentioned above.
Or you can choose to travel to Cuba with a focus on photography, improving your skills, and rubbing elbows with other photography enthusiasts as part of the Penda Photo Tours Cuba Photography Workshop.
The beauty of visiting Cuba as part of a photography tour group is that you not only get to experience all the sights and sounds of the island's streets, culture, and architecture, but you do it while accompanied by two award-winning photographers - Andy Scaysbrook and Andrew Bell.
In that regard, Penda Tours puts you in prime position to experience the raw, real Cuba as a tourist and as a photographer.
Daily photography workshops get your creative juices flowing, and you get to capitalize on what you learn by immediately putting your newfound knowledge and skills to the test.
And don't think that this group isn't for you...
Photographers of all skill levels and abilities are encouraged to join. And since the group size is limited to just six participants, you're ensured that you'll have plenty of one-on-one and small group time with the expert photographers on the journey with you. That includes daily review sessions in which the group inspects the work of each participant, offers constructive feedback, and discusses photography.
Think of the trip as a 10-day-long visual storytelling masterclass in which you learn how to engage with the people that view your images by creating photos that are visually striking and which tell a compelling story.
If it sounds like a dream photography scenario, it is!
Cuba is an ideal setting for stretching your photography boundaries in a place that's welcoming, captivating, and, despite many hardships, endlessly hopeful.
Immerse yourself in Cuba's story, learn valuable photography skills from the pros, and come out of the journey a better photographer and a better person for having these experiences.
Penda Photo Tours has scheduled a Cuba Photography Workshop this October 2-12, 2017.
For further details about this or other tours, be sure to visit Penda Photo Tours.