Cuba: Door to Door

Yirka, my Havana guide, and production assistant asked me: “Why I photographed so many doors?”. Good question.

I guess it seems a bit odd, maybe even puzzling, given my original mission to come to Cuba to shoot portraits, that I would travel such a great distance, to photograph what apparently seemed to her, to be a very pedestrian and unimaginative subject.

Like tens of thousands of photographers before me, newbie and veteran alike, for the better part of my photographic life and career, I have been obsessed with photographing doors.

Doors, as a photographic subject and theme, are pregnant and teeming with both literal and symbolic meaning and significance.

Doors are not only interesting lessons in geometry, line, color, and light but they naturally and organically invite curiosity and participation.

Who lives there? What’s behind the door? What is their story?

Within this Cuban context, photographing doors provided the perfect counter-point and counterbalance to my street portraiture.

While photographing street portraiture is, without a doubt, intoxicating, it’s also exhausting, given the fact that it takes an enormous amount of emotional intelligence to do well.

It’s a challenge to live on a diet of portraiture photography…all day long. I need a break.

So when I move from door to people and people to door, I’m straddling between the world of emotional and spiritual import and consequence. Animate and inanimate.

What struck me, on this trip, as throughout, I equivocated between the doors of humanity and the doors of geometry, how very much alike doors and people are.

They both come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

The counterpoint, in this case, fun, between shooting people and shooting doors, is that doors don’t talk back but manage to speak, nonetheless, a silent language, full of meaning and message.

Enter at your own risk.



Jack Hollingsworth