John Harden, British national resident in Cuba since 1998, photographer, teacher, writer, founder and managing director of PhotoZoomCuba.
It really all began with penguins. Tens of photos of penguins covered the walls of Mr. Humphries’ photographic studio, venue of his Pinner Camera Club, where, in six months, he taught me the techniques of developing film, enlarging and printing and the basics of composition. Our family bathroom became my darkroom. Those were the days of “Brownie” 120 orthochromatic film, my box camera and my eleven years of age. Then came panchromatic film, affordable 35mm viewfinder cameras and b/w films of various speeds, then colour negative, twin lens reflex cameras until, finally, we had 35mm single-lens reflex cameras and colour positive slide film, the peak of analogical documentary photography. I lived it all, later simply as a hobby while teaching English and as organic farmer in Italy. In 1998, I found myself in Cuba.
Wow! Exuberant colours, sensual rhythms, creative youngsters, fascinating buildings, flora and fauna, beaches galore, luxuriant mountains. I made it my new home, turned “pro”, sent images to UK stock libraries and was contracted by Thomas Cook as photographer for their Travellers’ Cuba guidebook. Since then, I have sold around three million postcards and eleven thousand copies of my two illustrated books, “Calle Cuba” and “Dreambook of Cuba”, all exclusively to the limited tourist market. I have also had twenty-two exhibitions in Cuba and abroad of my less commercial work. In 2008, I went “digital” and so regained command of all the photographic processes from seeing to showing. All along, my inspiration has been fuelled by Cuba’s fertile environment of art and culture. So, come and pick my brains, soak up my youthful Cuban colleagues’ creativity and enthusiasm. See you here at PhotoZoomCuba, Havana. Hasta pronto!
“John closes one eye and sees a cow jumping over the moon.”
Anniet Forte, founder member of PhotoZoomCuba, actress, theatrical director, photographer and instructor.
Many years ago, I won a small digital camera in a raffle, and I took it as a sign. Following my university days studying theatrical art, I simply dabbled in photography until I met John Harden who took me under his wing and led me along the enthralling path of seeing reality through a camera lens. I fell in love with photo reportage and street photography and had my first exhibition during Havana’s 13th Biennial of Contemporary Art. My life is now shared between acting, theatrical direction and the moment I can “click!”
I have performed in over a dozen films for the television and cinema, some having won awards in international festivals such as “Martí….” directed by Fernando Perez and “Conducta” by Ernesto Daranas. In addition, for ten years, I was part of the cast of the prestigious theatrical group, El Publico”, and worked with other groups such as Aldaba and the Victoria Theatre.
Apart from having graduated in theatrical arts at Havana´s Art University, I hold a degree in Humanism and Society and another in Theology through the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Study Centre.
Yasser Fonseca Valdes, born in Havana, Cuba. Artist and designer. Webmaster and designer for PhotoZoomCuba.
After graduating in Art at the San Alejandro Art Academy, I went on to studying design with the intention of developing my work incorporating digital techniques never imagining that that step would set me on a career which has given me so much gratification.
I love designing. I find that design is another field in which to codify ideas, propose new meanings and increase my tool box. I also believe that design needs to continually reinvent itself in order not to become obsolete and it is precisely this conviction that keeps me greedy for knowledge.
For eight years, I was professor of drawing and art appreciation at the Experimental Centre of Visual Arts in Havana, and have taught classes of animation, illustration and design at Cuba’s Superior Institute of Design
I take part in editorial projects, the design and layout of various publications and was co-founder of the digital magazine Amano. I collaborate in the design workshops of a furniture manufacturer CAIROSTUDIO and of an audio-visual project A Mayor. It could be that my journey into the Web is to a great degree thanks to the intense commitment of these projects to interact with their respective audiences along with my obsession of always wanting to learn more, a mind-set which keeps me absorbed in this marvellous work.
Whether creating graphic design, audio-visuals, web design or fine art, I find the same gratification. It is an indispensable intellectual exercise, a healthy addiction.
Mirna Rodríguez Boada, born in Havana, Cuba.
Artist, designer. Video editor and photographer.
Having successfully finished my university years at Havana’s Superior Institute of Design, the career I had happily chosen took me to study at the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television Studies, then a course in Audiovisual Editing and finally a year-long course of Camera Management and Image Composition at the Cuban School of Creative Photography. Now it was time to go to work applying all that accumulated knowledge in my main passions; video-editing and photography.
Since then I have collaborated on a range of major projects including health manuals for African populations,
editing and post-production for international events by UNESCO, audiovisual documentaries of musical groups and painters and for controversial issues such as female empowerment. Added to which I have worked with visual artists and spatial survey projects including the interior design of Havana’s Neptuno Hotel. But my guiding star is photography which has lead me to set up my own studio whereby I can creatively apply all my knowledge and experience.
Like an actress studying the script of a new personage, I shall throw everything I am into the role I have chosen and am overjoyed to find myself part of PhotoZoomCuba’s exhilarating team project.
Joel Hernández Marín, Although I graduated from university with a degree in biology, my passion for photography was born while working as part of a team of photographers documenting the effects of desertification and drought in Cuba’s eastern province of Guantanamo. Once back in Havana in 2010, I began teaching photography to students of the University Faculties of Architecture and of Biology and at the School of Creative Photography. I continue today giving classes at the Faculty of Audio-visual Media Studies. Since 2014, I have been working with the Road Scholar Agency alongside three Pulitzer Award winners, a precious experience broadening my knowledge of photography and how to teach it as an art form.
To date, I have held fifteen exhibitions of my work primarily related to nature and the environment. Although I am not a lover of contests, I have won a number of prizes in nature-related contests and as jury member in others.
For me, teaching photography is also a means of learning and so helps me develop my workshops as a continuous exchange of knowledge and where I can pass on to others everything I have learned till now.