Jim Henderson was looking to be inspired and challenged, so he started searching for the perfect personal project. Through a series of seemingly random events and connections, Cuba came into focus as the place to go. Jim headed out as part of a group, his own goal to capture the culture and unique people that make up the historically rich country.
Initially, Jim crafted a list of the kinds of events he was most interested in shooting—like boxing and salsa dancing. His contact in Cuba did some research and selected the perfect locations where Jim could encounter these activities. Jim looked forward to photographing some of the most classic Cuban attractions with his own spin.
While Jim had some difficulties communicating, he saw first-hand the magic of the universal language—smiles. For the most part, the people he encountered were really receptive to his project and eager to get involved.
I really enjoy photographing real people and working people. Part of it is being a little voyeuristic and capturing them when they aren’t aware, and other times it’s talking with them and making them feel comfortable enough to let their guard down and be themselves.
Jim learned a lot on his trip about the people of Cuba and was truly grateful for their friendliness and warmth.
They have a genuine love for Americans and many have relatives in the states. Some displayed American flags and Cuban flags together proudly. One guy said it like this: “It’s like 2 cousins that get along and like each other but their parents don’t speak.”
After exploring the area and checking a few items off his list, Jim and his group headed out on a two-day trip into Vinales, a small town in the eastern tip of Cuba built upon low mountain ranges. They rode in style, cruising through hill country in three vintage cars, visiting the local watering holes along the way.
As Jim wrapped up his trip through Cuba he reflected on the transiency of this beautiful area as it drifts towards many changes.
The best part of this project for me was just the fact that I was able to see Cuba as it has basically been for the last 50 years. It no doubt will be changing now with relations finally thawing. Some of that will be for the good-especially for the Cuban people- but some will not and the landscape of the city could look much different in a few years.
To view more work from Jim, visit jimhendersonphoto.com.