The Hat Series - Cuba
by David Shedlarz
In 2017, the diplomatic relationship between the USA and Cuba was slightly restored, thus allowing “Cultural Exchange” opportunities between the two countries. These portraits were taken as part of a photography workshop in Havana and Trinidad.
This was my first experience with shooting street portraits handheld with the Phase One Medium format camera system. Because it was a photography workshop, some of the subjects were expecting to be photographed. The farmers were part of a scheduled stop but I was able to capture unique portraits by shooting with a 28mm f/4.5 lens very close up. The family was very proud of their farm and you could see the generational ties between father and son. Street shooting was a different story. The bulkiness of the camera system required a change in shooting style. “The Cross”, “Blue Man” and “Cuban Gentleman” were all impromptu meetings requiring a hint of acceptance by the subject to be photographed. I am fascinated by subjects that chose to stare directly into the camera.
There is a powerful sense of humility and intimacy that happens in the split second of the click of the shutter. I loved that the working man with the shovel weaved his hand through his prominent necklace of a cross. It feels like an intentional gesture. The color block, grit and detail of this street portrait really tell a story. The bright colors of “Blue Man” and ” Malecon in Motion” are representative of the sheer vibrancy of Cuba. The exquisite details that are captured with this camera system are apparent in the tight weaves of the hats that are worn by these gentlemen. Cuba is hot in the Spring-a hat is a necessary accessory!