"Working in Cuba is a marathon of problem solving. I am always scoping for places and models. For Rafael and Ramudo, I had scouted a great location and derived a good narrative and waited for our schedules to work out. Which meant that, after waiting months to work with them, we took a taxi to El Morro just after dawn on a Monday morning. It was surprising to see a man there, three hours before El Morro opened. He politely waited for me to pay the taxi, and watched as the taxi drove away. When I am about to start working I get a little thrill and I had been putting this shoot together in my head for a long time and we were about ten minutes away from starting. But first, the stranger announced that he was security and that El Morro was closed and we were not allowed to be there. I had my models, my assistant, and all my camera gear. We explained, first me in mangled Spanish, that we wanted to take some photos, disguising some of our intention. Then my models helped explain. Ah, in that case, we would need a contract. We could get one. He explained where, and from whom. It was 7am. And there were no taxis. And he was blocking my intention."
"I offered him the money pretneding not to understand the subtleties of contracts. This sort of thing often works. But it did not. And so I left my assistant with my models - I had only barely said hello yet to the models - and went off in search of the contract. When I returned, I explained it in Spanish to my long waiting assistant and models: 4 buildings, 1 hour, too many people, and 250 CUC, or just under $300. I was foiled. And by now it was pushing 9am and El Morro still wasn't opened and we could not work and we could not get a taxi either."
"My instinct had been not to go looking for the contract. I did not think it would be easy and I did not think it would be cheap. And I should have gone with my instincts. It was already hot and too bright. And I had already wasted nearly 2 hours. Resolved. We would walk to the cratered beach on Havana Bay. I was happier already to have a new plan. I was happier already to leave the security guard behind us. By the time we arrived on the beach, alongside the tunnel under the bay, it was already nearly 10am, it was already too hot and too shiny."
"But I had the boys from the band - Rafael and Ramudo are in a band together - on the beach and I was not going to be stopped. We got ready and I calmed down. The boys and I had to work like vampires. First we worked in the shadows of an old military lookout. As the sun burned up the sky, we set out for the corner of the beach by the cliff rock where there was still a bit of shadow. A man was there digging a hole, it appeared as if he was digging his own grave. A moment later, when I looked again, he was gone. I'm still not sure if he scurried away, or if he managed to bury himself. And so we worked."
"It was past noon when we were done and the tropical sun had already eaten up all the shadows. I was sweaty and seriously burned, so burned that the boys in the band offered to carry my gear up the hill to the road where we caught a taxi back into the city." - Kevin Slack - –BM-
KEVIN SLACK | BEAUTIFULMAG