Cuban Lives

Photographer Captures the Spirit of Ordinary People in Cuba

If Dutch photographer, Jeroen Nieuwhuis teaches us anything with his latest series, People of Cuba it’s that even the everyday and the quotidian can be spectacular. True to form, his photographs encapsulate a sort of inner beauty in each of his subjects. “We were inspired by the photographs of photographer Ebo Fraterman shot in Havana and throughout Cuba,” explains Jeroen. “The beautiful old almost cinematic streets and buildings made us decide to go there.”

And Jeroen has certainly carried that cinematic aesthetic into his own series, with brilliant scenes which at once are sincerely authentic, and yet also seem somehow larger than life. “I’ve travelled to ‘poor’ countries, but Cuba is something different, it really feels that you’re going back in time,” he recalls. There’s definitely a sense of being transported to a simpler and humbler time, away from the pounding madness of a modern metropolis.

We asked Jeroen if anyone in particular really stood out. “It was Arturo Saldana, the guy with the big belly! Everyone we portrayed we gave them some money for their time but he refused it. The people in Cuba have a minimum income so money from tourists is always very welcome. I don’t know why but he was happy enough that I wanted to take some images of him. He was a really happy and friendly guy!”

We got the lowdown on the trip from Jeroen.

The Plus: How did people react when you said you wanted to photograph them?
Jeroen Nieuwhuis:
The people in Cuba are friendly. No one refused the request to take photos
of them, in exchange for some money. We also had a guide with us throughout the trip to help us translate from English to Spanish.

TP: What’s the food like in Cuba?
The food was actually not that good. A lot of restaurants serve the same menu of chicken/beef/pork.

TP: Where else would you like to travel?
Somewhere remote where people live under very simple conditions to portray their lives.

TP: Are you working on anything new?
At the moment I’m working on some large international campaigns. Unfortunately, I can’t say anything about it but if you want to keep up with my work and the work of my studio you can follow us on Facebook.