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The Amazing Patricia

I woke up this morning and realized I was tired of bad news. I didn't want to hear about new cases of Covid-19 or politics or anything else, for that matter.

I have used photography as my tool to unwind and escape, particularly with trips to foreign countries. Foreign travel requires getting on an airplane and right now I am not that brave. I've had the privilege to travel to many places, but I always seem to want to go back to Cuba. I've been there five times since 2014 and would go back in a second for a sixth time if I could. The trips have been through the Santa Fe School of Photography. I now have friends in Cuba, am familiar with many parts of Havana and instantly relax once I get on the plane from Florida to Havana airport. My worries go away and I am transported to a place with great people, good food, and wonderful backdrops for photography.

I figured that if I could not get there I might as well relive the trips through the pictures that I took. When I went through the photographs I realized that my favorites were of the same person. Her name is Patricia and I met her in 2015; I was able to photograph her again last year. She is an amazing dancer, model and person.


May 8, 2015


In 2015, she was still in her teens and studying ballet. She and another ballerina were hired as models and met us at an old mansion in Havana. At her young age she was already a very instinctive model and knew exactly what was necessary to make a photograph work.


The picture below is one of my very favorites and was so much fun to shoot. It was a collaborative effort: I found the top hat, and she suggested the lit cigar. Someone ran out to get a cigar, which is not hard to find in Havana. The final product has a whimsey that would have been impossible to create with a less talented model. The result is, well, see for yourself.


May 2, 2015


After shooting we left Havana for a few days and arrived back the night before we were to leave. Luckily, Patricia was available for shooting early the next morning. We were up at sunrise and met her at the Plaza de San Francisco. The Plaza is right near the water and the morning was beautiful and quiet. The result was one of the most productive photography sessions I had ever had. Five years later, I still marvel at the results.


May 8, 2015 at Plaza de San Francisco., Havana

I left Havana that afternoon and did not have a chance to work with Patricia again until February of 2019. Once more, I was there with the Santa Fe School of Photography and was given the opportunity to work with Patricia for most of the week. My plan was to photograph her in some of my favorite Havana locations. I took time to plan out the photographs and wanted to be able to take advantage of her ability to be whimsical.

One of the first places we went was the same home where the May 2, 2015 photos were taken. To add humor to the photograph I had brought the clown shoes she is wearing. The actual pose was worked out by the both of us.


February 2, 2019 in Havana


It wasn't all whimsey, though. We were also able to take advantage of a grand piano.


One of the unique things about photographing in Havana is that there are numerous old and rundown locations that are waiting to be refurbished. Jennifer Spelman an amazing photographer, tour leader and friend, found the best location that I have ever shot in: an old theatre that once had to be magnificent but now looks like a movie location for a horror film.


February 2, 2019 in Havana


My goal was to use the backdrop to create a netherworld spirit. Patricia was the perfect model to collaborate on the project.


February 2, 2019 in Havana


Needless to say, it was a privilege to work with Patricia and I hope that I have opportunities to continue to do so in the future. She is wonderful. I have not experienced such a combination of dancing talent, athleticism, beauty and whimsey in any other model.

January 31, 2019 in Havana






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