Winner - Portfolio Category
“Alan’s outstanding series of portraits are as much about the backdrop as the subject being photographed, but in a good way. As a group, the photographs immediately let us know we’re in Cuba. The striking, colourful settings and revealing details enhance the photographs rather than distracting from the subject. Each image invites you to study the surroundings — a shop with old radios, a market with meagre supplies, and intricate window grates on deteriorating buildings. With a straightforward style, the photographer’s subjects are conscious of the camera but appear natural and relaxed in their environment.”
Carol Enquist, Senior Photo Editor, National Geographic Traveler (US)
I spent 10 days travelling around Cuba in November 2014. For me, the most interesting thing about the country, by a long distance, was its people. I would wander around towns like Havana and Trinidad, approaching people that caught my eye and establishing some sort of connection through very broken Spanish. Everyone I spoke to, without exception, was friendly, curious and chatty.
It occurred to me that these interactions were being made possible by the fact that Cubans spend a lot of time outside their houses and places of business, on the street, watching the world go by. This slower pace of life encourages eye contact, a smile and a story exchanged in a remarkably easy manner. For me, this is the essence of Cuba and I wanted to capture it through my portraits before improving relations with the USA foster a more cynical, hard nosed attitude, as is evident in so many other tourist destinations.