COVID-19 Update: For all in-person workshops and trips in 2023, Santa Fe Workshops highly recommends that all participants, staff, and instructors attending be up to date with Covid vaccinations (per definition of the CDC). For international trips, local laws will apply, so it is important that you confirm you will be fully vaccinated according to the countries on your trip.
Cuba is one of the most enchanting and captivating countries in the world – a multifaceted blend of history, music, dance, gracious people, and vibrant island culture. Join Jennifer Spelman and Carlos Otero on this unique opportunity to engage with the Cuban people of Camagüey and to discover the allure that is Cuba through your lens.
This cultural exchange allows a chance to not just visit Camagüey, but to deeply engage with the sophisticated, urban life of this colonial city. Jennifer and Carlos guide you as you explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods and meet its residents. Following narrow streets into hidden alleys, we find charming courtyards and stunning historic churches waiting to be revealed by our cameras. Camagüey’s streets give the sensation of wandering through a labyrinthine. Legend has it the maze-like city was intentionally designed to confuse any pirates wanting to attack. An architectural delight, Camagüey was one of the seven original Villas founded by the Spanish and is now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Camagüey’s spirited culture translates significantly across all of the arts. We meet and photograph dancers from the renowned Camagüey Ballet Company, which has been performing since 1967. Visits to local potters puts us in touch with the symbol of the city – tinajones. These huge earthenware clay pots rounded with traditional methods are found throughout the city.
Slipping further back in time, we visit nearby farming villages and seaside towns ready to welcome us in a world that seems unchanged over the past fifty years. Rural Cuba is full of kind and welcoming farmers and fisherman, and our adventures into the beautiful countryside affords us the time to leisurely discover and explore its many wonders.
In alliance with Cuba’s premier photographic organization, Fototeca de Cuba, our program allows participants a unique experience in Cuba through the photographer’s eye. Our 8-day educational program offers a cultural exchange with the Cuban people as well as a rich photographic educational experience. With your camera as your entrée into people’s lives, this inspiring trip with Carlos and Jennifer expands your understanding of the inhabitants of this beguiling country and opens the door into the less-explored center of the island.
True to the requirements of a People-to-People General License with U.S. Treasury Department, Picturing Cuba: Camagüey and the Countryside focuses on educational exchanges with the Cuban people and recording their amazing lives with our cameras.
This SFW Cuba program is open to amateur, advanced amateur and professional photographers. Enrollment is limited to seven participants.
Participants should be technically self-sufficient, as this is not a program to learn how to use your gear or editing software. Participants should be in very good health with good stamina and mobility, as long days are spent exploring—this means walking, sometimes for two to three hours at a time, occasionally up steep stairs, steep hills, and along uneven terrain.
Participants make their own air travel arrangements with American Airlines to arrive in Camagüey on the morning flight from Miami on Monday, April 3, and return to the U.S. from Camagüey on Monday, April 10 on the morning flight. You may need to consider staying the night before and/or after your flight to and from Cuba. Once the trip is confirmed, additional information and travel details are provided. SFW cannot help facilitate travel extensions.
Instead of staying in hotels, we will be enjoying a more authentic Cuban experience by staying in casa particulars (rooms in private homes).
$6,395, includes single accommodations for eight nights ($200 discount for couples sharing a room/bed); full breakfast daily plus two lunches and three group dinners. Airfare to/from Camagüey, Cuba (airport code CMW) is not included, as well as additional meals, required Cuban health insurance, recommended travel insurance, and Cuban visa.
Jennifer Spelman is documentary photographer and member of the Jibaro Photos Collective. She is co-publisher of CubaSeen, a quarterly magazine showcasing photography and writing about Cuba.
Jennifer received her photographic training as an assistant with The Workshops, working with some of today’s most preeminent photographers: Jay Maisel, Norman Mauskopf and Joe McNally.
A sensitive photographer of people, Jennifer strives to create portraits with energy and insight. She is most at home on the streets of Havana and has worked with The Workshops across Cuba since 2011. Jennifer is a patient educator who has co- instructed with National Geographic Expeditions and taught workshops in Romania, India, Mexico and Japan, in addition to Cuba.
A popular workshop instructor, Jennifer is also part of our Mentorship Program »
Carlos Otero Blanco is a photographer who specializes in underwater photography. Despite the fact that Carlos left Cuba after finishing high school in Havana to study hydrogeologic science in a university institute of the city of Novocherkas, Russia, he recalls art was always his main interest. In fact, in the cruise ship that took him to the late Soviet Union, he was already shooting b/w film with a Zorki camera, one of the few available in Cuba in the 80’s. Carlos recalls that very soon after arriving to Russia, he was already doing extracurricular activities with the institute’s photographer and starting to learn the trade. So, back to Cuba with a university title, Carlos never really went into what he study abroad, but instead sold his old Moskvich soviet car and bought his first digital cameras. Since then, photography has been the main tool for his artistic drive, with a wide range of thematic interests that span from documentary photography, to portraiture, to conceptual art, and nature.
In documentary photography, Carlos is probably best known for his photographic study on Cuban bedrooms, with hundreds of these shot all over Cuba since 2009. This effort of years (still ongoing) has led to a specific book (“Dormir con…” [“To Sleep with…”], co-authored by Enrique Rottenberg), has been shown in several national and international exhibits, and in recently featured articles in the New York Times (Cuba’s Secret Bedrooms), other publications, and books on Cuban photography.
Carlos is also a deep lover of nature and adventure photography. He has done studies in subaquatic archeology, and holds several diving master and instructor international titles. In consequence, Carlos is a certified subaquatic photographer and video instructor, and has participated in apnea and diving productions, and has won prizes in three international subaquatic photography contests.
This workshop is currently full. Use this form to sign up for the waitlist, and SFW will reach out if a seat becomes available.