Cuba: Travel Light

Before, during, and after my trip to Cuba, I had been pondering, even obsessing, about my own personal subject expertise and virtuosity in photography.

Was I a generalist or a specialist?

What was I really great at shooting? What did I enjoy shooting most? And why?

What subjects, scenes, and scenarios, in love and life, most inspired and motivated me, to point my camera at and click away?

Slowly, after putting many miles under my feet, I began to formulate a conclusion in three simple words-light. color, design…and the greatest of these is light.

In other words, I, and all photographers, primarily and mostly, shoot light and reflected light at that.

If you think about it, all cameras are subject-agnostic. They, for the most part, minus a few computational exceptions, have no earthly idea about what you are looking at. Cameras, in this regard, are not smart but dumb.

Cameras don’t know what your creative intentions are. Only you do.

That’s why, photographers, and not cameras, make pictures.

All light, from its source, travels in a straight line. Before the light arrives at its target destination, it can be diffused, subtracted, or reflected.

These are the well-known and time-tested properties of light transmission, subtraction, and reflection.
The lion-share of most of our photography efforts, for all of us that carry cameras, is a simple scientific matter of a film plane or digital sensor, capturing reflected light.

So while most photographers, myself included, continue to obsess, even brag, about their unique subject specialties and masteries, their real, sometimes hidden, aptitude is capturing light.

But, in a way, these subject specialties are secondary to my most important specialty-shooting light.
What do photographers actually shoot? They actually shoot light.

Yes, of course, without a doubt, I have, humbly and admittedly, subject competency in travel, portraiture, food, still life, lifestyle, landscapes, coastal, architecture, and adventure.

But my fundamental proficiency and command are not in the subjects I shoot but in the light, I use to celebrate these subjects.

In terms of my experience in Cuba, the story, as I experienced it, firsthand, with the help of Wilbur and Yirka, my photo guides and colleagues, was “travel light”.

And by travel light, I don’t mean what I brought or didn’t bring with me. I’m talking about the very exquisite, elegant, graceful, poetic, delicate light on the streets, that occupied and engrossed every click I made. Travel light.



Jack Hollingsworth