On Location

Exploring Trinidad, Playa Larga, and Havana

with Jennifer Spelman and Carlos Otero Blanco

Online registration for this program has closed. To check availability, find about about future dates, or if you would like further information, please call 505-983-1400 ext. 111. Also, get the SFW E-Newsletter for updates!

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Course Description

Join frequent Cuba traveler Jennifer Spelman and Cuban photographer Carlos Otero and immerse into the colonial heritage of charming Trinidad, then visiting the beautiful countryside surrounding Playa Larga, and ending the journey with a taste of Havana, the capital city of Cuba. Jennifer and Carlos are your guides and mentors on your adventures across this magical isle.

After an arrival into Havana on Wednesday, we gather for a welcome orientation, a walk around vibrant Havana, and a tasty dinner. Early the next morning we depart for our drive across the island to colorful Trinidad, Cuba’s third oldest settlement and our home for the next three days. That evening we explore the picturesque town as the late afternoon light illuminates the charming city center. Friday morning, we greet the city as it awakens for a morning walk and after breakfast visit the historic Torres Iznaga area and a local coffee plantation. That afternoon we explore the picturesque winding streets of bustling Trinidad.  Saturday morning, we journey into the surrounding countryside and then return to town as local families enjoy their weekend in the city.

Sunday morning, we depart Trinidad and enjoy a visit to a breathtaking waterfall and lunch enroute to our home for the next three evenings in beautiful Playa Larga. The following morning, we leave for a day trip exploring the nearby seaside towns, enjoying lunch overlooking the ocean along the way. Tuesday morning, we awaken early to observe the colorful birds of the La Salina area and Sendero Enigma de las Rocas. Lunch in nearby Girón is followed by a visit the Girón Museum before our return to Playa Larga and a late afternoon of photography or editing images.

The following morning, we pack and return to the spirited high-energy of Havana and enjoy exploring and making new images of the central part of the city. On our final full day in Cuba, we visit a surprise location before enjoying a final afternoon free to wander in Old Havana.  Our trip concludes with celebration dinner and slideshow sharing favorite images before departures the following morning.

In alliance with Cuba’s premier photographic organization, Fototeca de Cuba, our unique program allows participants a unique experience in Cuba through the photographer’s eye. Our 9-day educational program offers a cultural exchange with the Cuban people as well as a rich photographic educational experience.

True to the requirements of a People-to-People General License with U.S. Treasury Department, Exploring Trinidad, Playa Larga, and Havana focuses on educational exchanges with the Cuban people and recording their amazing lives with our cameras.

Additional Information

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.


This SFW Cuba program is open to amateur, advanced amateur, and professional photographers. Enrollment is limited to 7 participants.

What You Should Know:

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 2-3 hours at a time, occasionally up steep stairs, steep hills, and along uneven terrain.


View Payment, Refund, Withdrawal, and Transfer Policies for this International Program.

Nature & Landscape, One-of-a-Kind, Street Photography, Travel Photography
© Nerissa Escanlar
Jennifer Spelman

Jennifer Spelman is a documentary photographer. She is co-publisher of CubaSeen, a quarterly magazine showcasing photography and writing about Cuba.

Jennifer received her photographic training as an assistant with Santa Fe 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 Santa Fe Workshops across Cuba since 2011. Jennifer is a patient educator who has co-instructed with National Geographic Expeditions and taught workshops in Morocco, India, Turkey, Romania, Mexico, Japan, in addition to Cuba.

A popular workshop instructor, Jennifer is also part of our Mentorship Program »

Instagram: @jennifer_spelman

Carlos Otero Blanco

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.