It’s true. Everyone seems to want to be in the photographs we make when we’re in Cuba. Even the pigs. Perhaps they are just as curious about us as we are of them. Just like many of the people. And how long will that last? No one knows, for sure. But if we, as photographers, behave, and photograph everyone and everything with respect, it will last longer than if we just point and shoot and move on. If we can have a dialogue with the people, the true people-to-people exchange that Obama set in motion a while ago, it will help. You might have to do it through your guide/interpreter, if you don’t speak Spanish. But don’t let that deter you.
This farm is a Unesco heritage farm site. We visited on my first trip to Cuba, and subsequent trips thereafter. I have photographed Juana Gamacho, Francisco, their dogs, and now their pig! They welcome us each time, and we come bearing useful gifts – things like sewing kits, pens, batteries, first aid supplies, etc. Maybe that’s why they keep welcoming us, but it’s a win-win. They are truly willing to be photographed and they offer us coffee every time we come.
No matter where you travel, the experience is often made better by the connection you create when you are photographing the people or their homes/farms. We take a genuine interest in how they live; we ask what things are used for; we tell them (and mean it) how special their country is, and how glad we are to be there. We ask them how their crops are doing or did last season. I’m convinced all of that matters, I’ve seen it in the reactions we get on the faces of the people we photograph. Even the pigs smile.