+January 05, 2020
For travel and street photographer Laura Reid, places â€śwhere life is lived out on the streetsâ€ť are her preferred travel destinations and photographic subjects. It should come as no surprise that Havana immediately came to mind as a potential city to visit. With only five days to spend there, Laura ensured that she would get the most out of the available time, booking a local photographer called Alfonso to guide her and her husband on their first day in the city. Much like most travellers who travel to experience and better understand another culture - as opposed to merely ticking off a list of â€śmust-seeâ€ť tourist attractions - she was determined to see as much as she could of the real Havana. She certainly wasnâ€™t disappointed, and her photographs powerfully capture a reality that most travellers normally wouldnâ€™t have the access to.
Alfonso gave us access to so many places we would never have found or been able to enter without having a local with us.
Moving from the markets that are frequented by the locals rather than the tourists, revealing what Havanaâ€™s people like to buy and grow, to a national dance group rehearsal, a boxing gym and finally into peopleâ€™s homes, Laura received a running commentary from Alfonso about life in Havana. With this rare insight, her photographs reassert the real beauty of travel that lies in discovery, and in her case, discoveries that are not easily nor frequently made, even by those of us who consider ourselves well-travelled.
For the tourists, Havana offers vintage convertibles and cheap rum cocktails. For the photographer, it offers beautiful contrasting light in the incredibly narrow streets, great backdrops and subjects aplenty.
As most travel photographers know, it can be quite intimidating to walk down a dilapidated street of practically-crumbling buildings with an expensive camera in hand. Despite her initial hesitation, Laura was reassured by Alfonso and the other locals she met that it is perfectly safe to walk the streets photographing, and that people generally donâ€™t object to having their photo taken. As her photographs demonstrate, â€śyou can walk for miles and miles without a destination and see so, so much.â€ť
Life is different there and that is what makes it so interesting. You are constantly surrounded by a visual feast.
For those who have been lucky enough to travel, it is almost impossible to return without a new perspective that inevitably accompanies the photographs. Laura experienced a sense of hopelessness upon her return home, unable to ignore the neglected state of the buildings she saw and the alarming lack of goods on the grocery-store shelves. In Lauraâ€™s case, however, one of her photographs served a purpose far greater than simply hanging on a wall. One of her clients in Sydney had purchased a photograph that she had taken in the boxing gym, of a champion boxer wearing completely tattered gloves, to hang in his home gym. A month later, after looking at the boxerâ€™s gloves every day, he decided that he wanted to send the gym in Havana new gloves for its boxers.
Eventually 22 pairs of gloves (minus the three pairs that the Cuban customs officers kept for themselves) and some other accessories were delivered to some very happy boxers...the unexpected power of photography.
Laura is a travel and street photographer based in Sydney, Australia. She has been travelling for most of her life with a camera in hand, but it was only in the last five years that she decided to pursue it professionally. She is always searching for light or a different perspective and is most comfortable finding herself in places she has never been before. In Sydney, she can often be found photographing at one of the many beaches and ocean pools.