Photography has been with me all my life. One of my first cameras, over forty-five years ago, was a legend: the NIKON F2A analog SLR. Since there was no automatic program at that time, you had to know what you were doing. My photos were family pictures, or pictures that I took while traveling halfway around the world. My employer, IBM, often gave me the opportunity to travel – and take photos. With the change to digital photography, my equipment, which is now large, also became digital – and heavy. In addition to telephoto zoom, a wide-angle zoom, a standard lens, flash equipment and, of course, in addition to the actual SLR camera, a second camera – sometimes larger, sometimes smaller.
The children grew up and in the end only the vacation was used for taking pictures. Accordingly, the result of the vacation trips was also rather mediocre. The original enthusiasm for photography was waning. Even though the pictures were largely sharp and correctly exposed thanks to the modern automatic functions, an important element was missing: my pictures no longer had a soul. I parted with my camera equipment and sold it all. Everything!
I bought a Leica M9 rangefinder camera with a 35mm lens without knowing how to use the camera properly. Of course, in the beginning I used this camera just like my digital cameras before and bought all sorts of lenses, from extreme wide-angle lenses to normal focal lengths to 90mm telephoto lenses. The learning curve was flat because I was more busy changing lenses than actually taking photos. „Eat or die“ I thought to myself – either the passion comes back or I have to look for a new hobby.
I had known Cuba for a few years, but in February 2014 I flew to Havana without a return ticket. Cuba is one of the most alluring, exotic, and romantic places in the world for a street photographer to explore. Those who consider themselves lucky may spend a week or two in Havana photographing the American road cruisers from the 1950s and the historic buildings. Still others make a day trip to the tobacco farmers in Vallé de Viñales in the province of Piñar del Rio. Or a round trip deep into the east of the island to visit Santiago de Cuba.
I lived in Old Havana and explored the city with my camera on foot every day. In terms of photography, I had already photographed all the common clichés of Cuba a few years ago – I was looking for new photographic challenges, for the other, the mysterious Cuba. From now on I wanted to discover the soul of Cuba.