When Jose sent over these images from his recent trip to Cuba, I told him that they deserved to be in a gallery. We all know Jose Villa thanks to his beloved wedding photographs, though what we don’t always get to see, are the images that he captures along the way. The photographs that tell a story beyond white dresses and fairytales and capture life in a slightly different way. Through historied faces and beautifully worn moments. Click here to see even more and read on for Jose’s experience in Cuba.
SMP: What was your overall impression of Cuba?
JV: I’ve been to Cuba once before so I knew what to expect (well, sort of) and I was dying to go back. As a photographer, the people, food, light and color are my main loves and Cuba has it all wrapped into one.
SMP: What brought you there?
JV: I had been talking to my photography friends about how amazing Cuba is for some time now. My husband, Joel, and I decided it was time to show them ourselves so we all gathered together for a fantastic guys trip.
SMP: Where did you stay?
JV: We stayed in a rented home in Havana the first 4 nights, then we ventured off by car four hours north to Vinales where we stayed at a local hotel over looking the town. The views there were stunning to say the least. We spent 3 nights there, then drove the 6 hours south to Trinidad where we stayed for 3 more nights. We then headed back to Havana for one last night.
SMP: What was it like?
JV: Humm, like living in the 1950’s, like breathing the fresh air of life and like seeing the world with brand new eyes. It was a dream that I want to relive every single night.
SMP: Any not-to-miss excursions?
JV: Our goal was to travel with out any real agenda. We did do a few tours, but only to take in the things we wouldn’t have been able to discover on our own. We capitalized by asking the tour guide about their live’s in Cuba, and got the the scoop on insider, local spots. One day we even headed to the beach in Varadero to please our SoCal buddy, Lane Dittoe.
SMP: What’s the best way to get around?
JV: We actually rented a car. So many people advised us not to, so of course we did the exact opposite and we’re so thrilled we did. As a photographer, renting a car allowed us to be on our own schedule. It gave us the opportunity to stop and capture incredible photos, even if that meant stopping in the middle of a busy road. We were also able to stop off the side of the road for some local fare.
SMP: The most beautiful thing you saw during your travels?
JV: All of it. Seriously. ALL of it. The people are the most beautiful, both inside and out. The colors of Havana, the old cars .. It’s a scene you won’t ever find anywhere else in the world.
SMP: Any not-to-miss restaurants?
JV: It’s hard to say because I honesty can’t remember any names! We usually asked our local tour guide where to go. We never even paid much attention to where we were headed, our goal was just to find lobster every night! Ha!!
SMP: The most delicious thing you ate?
JV: I have to say the locally caught lobster… Oh, and the rice! Yum.
SMP: What about sights?
JV: The sights in Vinales are out of this world. It’s even better by horse in the back country.
SMP: Your favourite thing about the Cuban culture?
JV: The fact the people live life to the fullest. That they take the time to value family and that they embrace their culture and love their country like no other… They just have such a passion for living.
SMP: What did you find most inspiring about being able to capture Cuba through your lens?
JV: Besides of course the amazing people. The colors and the old school cars really added to the experience of what felt like stepping back in time. There’s nowhere else on the planet like this and I’m so happy that I’ve been able to enjoy it twice now!
SMP: Anything notable you’d like to add?
JV: Yes!! Get your booty on that next flight to Cuba. Just don’t take too long – I know you’ll regret it!!