The Story Behind a Shortlisted Photo

Posted on May 20, 2010


If you speak to any press photographer you’re sure to hear a rant about the fact that their favourite picture is never the one that goes into print, or that it has been cropped beyond recognition.  That is why we all enjoy when our work is recognised through competitions.  We get to choose the best image and someone else has agreed.

Therefore, when I realised that one of my images taken in Cuba was a runner up in Calumet and Serion‘s Through Maasailand contest  I was really pleased.  A year on from the trip I was reminded of how stunning and hypnotic Cuba is, and feel the story behind the image needs to be shared too.

Fellow photographer Kim Ing and I took a day trip from Havana to the traditional town of Matanza to get a better feel of real life in Cuba and generate a range of photography.  We spent the day wandering and decided to try out the worlds oldest electric train for the return journey.

The Hershey train (named after and build for the old chocolate factory half way between Matanza and Havana) chundles through the countryside, stopping at tiny stops in the middle of nowhere.  It also comes to a halt whenever it accidently hits something.  In the case of our journey a deer.  Passengers jump off to dislodge the animal and bring it aboard.  The train moves again, only to take a prolonged stop at the Hershey station.

During the break I shot this photograph of passengers.  They were all fully aware of the reason for the delay, Kim and I needed to be clued in by our new Cuban friend.  The deer was being prepared to preserve the meat for the long hot journey ahead. Ten minutes after the photo we were on our way again, learning about Cuban culture from our new friends along the way.  All in all the journey took 3 1/2 hours compared with 1 3/4 on the bus.  But it was definitely worth it.  Trips like that, away from the tourist trail, introduce travellers to the reality of life in Cuba, where any food must be utilised ad waste is not an option.