New photo-blog captures the hearts and stories of Havana’s people
GritoBlast! Before now, Cuba was mostly known — and photographed — as a second-chance haven for antique cars. But with relations between the U.S. and Cuba thawing and more daily flights offered to the Communist island, Cuba is rapidly changing its image with Americans.
However, the “real” Cuba is still not fully visible to everyone. That’s where Humans of Havana wants to change the landscape.
HumansOfHavana.com is a photo blog website that captures the real lives and feelings experienced by average Cubans found in the streets of Havana through candid portraits and mini-narratives.
Based on the work of Brandon Stanton’s hugely popular Humans of New York, Humans of Havana adds to the collection of various “humans of” sites sprouting up all over the world.
“Humans of Havana was the best way I could find to expose people outside Cuba to all the wonderful qualities of ordinary Cubans. Regardless of your beliefs and values, connecting to other people through candid images and short, honest dialogue is really one of the highest purposes of the Internet as a communication medium – a way to illustrate our shared humanity,” says Simons Chase, the human behind Humans of Havana and editor-in-chief and co-founder of the Cuba Journal.
Mr. Chase, a Havana native whose background lies in art, film and photography, has been involved in developing a media company about Cuba for the last two years. Frustrated with an endless stream of images narrowly focused on Cuba’s antique cars and beaches, he decided to dedicate resources to his Humans of Havana project as a challenge inspired by the resilience and creativity he discovered in Cubans themselves.
“Considered separately, the stories tell individual experiences, but together, they form a broader narrative of the human experience and the ways in which Cubans’ lives are similar to our own despite differences in material possessions. Cuba is portrayed as many things in the media, but the truth is that Cuba is a country with eleven million people. It’s the people that count,” adds Mr. Chase, who spent months developing the site and convincing people on Havana’s streets to trust him with their stories.
“The feedback about the site has been amazing. The kaleidoscope of changes ahead will no doubt find an expression on the Humans of Havana website – so I look forward to documenting this epic evolution directly through the people themselves,” says Mr. Chase.