The Children of Cuba



Yes!  I went back to Cuba. This trip took me to the South Eastern corner of the Island, the City of Santiago de Cuba. Santiago is the 2nd largest city in Cuba and known to be the birthplace of the Cuban sound. Desi Arnaz, Emilo Estefan, and many members of the Buena Vista Social Club were born in this area.

When I returned from my first visit to Cuba someone suggested that I look up a Cuban-Italian photographer by the name of Manuello Paganelli … so I did.




Manu, or Pag, has been photographing the Island for over 20 years.  Manu travels with the heart and soul of his heritage, every one is familia.  His warmth and charming Ricky Riccardo personality lead the way, the printed syllabus was just a suggestion…




 One day, en route from A-B, we stopped in the small town of San Luis for lunch. We had caused quite a stir in this town and the villagers ventured out of every nook and cranny. Tourists are far and few between.

The people of Cuba were as lovely as I had remembered, and another reason for my return.

  Once again a simple ‘hola’ was exchanged with a warm and genuine smile in return. 




This trip was varied and diverse. We went to a Cock Fight, to a home / hospital for pregnant girls, we visited a home in the mountains and dropped in on a family who lived just off the side of the road.  We sat in on a Santeria Ritual … rum was offered in return for health… , we swam in the Caribbean and sipped Caipirinha’s at night.  But the main reason I choose to go to Santiago de Cuba was for the Music and the Carnival.










Our first night in Santiago de Cuba was the Children’s Parade… worth every click of my shutter!  Manu knew somebody somewhere so we were able to walk within the confines of the parade itself and snap away, we had the run of the mill.




That was a photobomb !








“The carnival of Santiago de Cuba is the largest, most famous, and most traditional carnival in all of Cuba. It’s an explosion of color, contagious drum rhythms, and dance. It is also a time for Cubans to re-gather themselves and remember their history, community, and culture. The event is often punctuated by the Cuban National Holiday of July 26th.” wiki

This year they were also celebrating Fidel Castro’s 90th birthday.







This little fellow was crying pretty hard!  I tried to take his picture but I wasn’t quick enough. By the time I reached him he was just scowling  …. I talked to him in my own special way, took a photo, showed him his picture and then smiles galore !  He was OK after that…

 My first post, this one, is an introduction to my recent visit. I will share this trip in more detail as time goes on but I wanted  somehow to incorporate the children of Cuba. Aren’t they beautiful !







I smile at each shot, and  remember the moment. Some of these children lured me take their picture and I was delighted.  I think I had more fun than they did ….!!


This image was taken in the town of El Cobre.

  Every picture tells a story ….



14 thoughts on “The Children of Cuba

  1. What an incredible trip Michelle. Very special. You captured the moments, I feel as though I can walk through these photos and be friends with these beautiful children. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I really enjoyed this blog post. Thank you. Your images are fabulous. So clear and expressive. Thank you. I do a travel blog as a hobby so I am especially appreciative of your sharing your experience and your really great photography. I know how hard it is to capture the special moments, sweet expressions and depth of emotion. Susan (

  3. Love these.. felt like I was on the journey with you, in front of the lens. I would have loved to have seen you in action with your wonderful friend/photographer behind the lens.. great shots!

  4. Fabulous spontaneous captures of the clear sparkling joy of the children and the textures and colors abound!

  5. Michele so glad you traveled with my small group. You are a great example of a North American… a perfect ambassador to folks in far away lands. I love your powerful striking images… what I was hoping to get from your wonderful talent!

    I love your vibrant spirit, your going with the flow mind and getting down and dusty like any native. That is the best quality to have as we travel the world with our cameras.

    Allow me to share with you this interview that just came out on Fast Company about my upcoming book on Cuba of my 60+ trips documenting the island 1989-2015:

    This other link is about my friendship and mentoring with Ansel Adams at the start of my photography career that was published on LensCulture:



    Photo Workshop in Cuba since 1996 Travel & Shoot Like a Native with US.

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