Havana Cuba Destination Wedding guide behing the scenes

Shane & Lauren Photography documented a recent trip to Cuba where they went to scout out the location for a workshop and to photograph a wedding. They shared some pictures with Venuelust and also gave us some insight into what it is like on the ground in the newly-open Caribbean nation... 

What inspired your trip to Cuba?

We went to scout for an upcoming workshop and to do a bridal shoot.  The workshop will be a fine art workshop with me and two other photographers, Cody Tolmen and Mark Potter.  I came up with the idea for the workshop and thought it would be awesome to do something a little different by bringing together three guys who have very different styles and philosophies.  I have always, always wanted to go to Cuba. Maybe it was the fact that you weren't allowed to go that drew me to it, but I think it was more the culture and people that I was most curious about.

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Havana Cuba Destination Wedding guide shane and Lauren Photography

Where did you stay while you were there?

We stayed at a casa particulares called Casa Leo & Ivelis.  Leo was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.  He is a lawyer, but I never saw him wear a shirt the entire time we were there.  He has such big heart and was so helpful with anything we needed.

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How was it exploring the city?  
Exploring Havana was very interesting.  First, we stood out like sore thumbs: three extra-white guys and a girl with giant cameras. We constantly got approached by touts offering taxis, cigars, nightclubs, restaurants, etc.  Other than that, we stayed in Vadado, which is the most affluent of the three districts of Havana.  Unlike Central Havana, you could definitely tell that people in this part of town had a bit more to live on.  The people of Central Havana were, for the most part, very poor, but also energetic and generally happy.

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Three things that stood out to me were...

1. There were hardly any signs of alcohol or drugs.  This was surprising to me. I have traveled quite a bit, and most poorer countries tend to have issues with these things. It was pretty refreshing to see that Cubans had not resorted to that.

2.  There was no street music. I expected to hear music everywhere, but I really didn't see any. This was very surprising to me.

3.  Every night, entire neighborhoods would gather outside to watch movies on their phones or iPads or to FaceTime with relatives abroad.  Parks were full of people on iPads and iPhones.

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What did you find to be most inspirational? 

I thought it was cool to see how tight knit the community is.  It sort of moves like a well oiled machine.  People help each other constantly. For example, there are "local" taxis that shuttle people across the city for nearly nothing. There isn't really a system for these taxis, you just kind of have to know where to catch them and where they are going.

Havana Cuba Destination Wedding guide malacon

Shane + Lauren Photography is a husband and wife wedding and portrait photography team based in San Diego, California. Shane + Lauren consider their style to be photojournalistic with a modern twist. "Our goal in every photo shoot is to tell a story by capturing the events as they unfold in a natural and creative way." 

For more Cuba tips and experiences, check out the following:

Tips for Planning a Honeymoon in Cuba

Destination Cuba: A Guide to Planning a Getaway in the Once Forbidden Country

Have you been to Cuba?

Share your experiences in the comments section