Photography in Cienfuegos, Cuba

One of the things about my trip to Cuba, in comparison to other destinations I’ve been to recently, is that I was going in a bit blind.  I didn’t have a whole lot of information to go on for the country in general, so my 2 weeks were a bit of a crap shoot.  Cienfuegos was the first town I went to after leaving my Intrepid Travel group and headed off on my own.  I didn’t know anything about Cienfuegos except for what I read in the Lonely Planet on the bus ride in from Havana.  On the whole, I thought the city was beautiful.  It seemed a bit wealthier than other places I’ve seen in Cuba, and there were a couple interesting things to shoot.  I spent 2 full days in Cienfuegos, but the truth is, from a photography perspective, I probably could have done everything I needed to in just 1 day.

This is what I got up to.

The Malecón of Cienfuegos

The afternoon I arrived, I headed out to the malecón of Cienfuegos to shoot the sunset.  I was hoping to get some shots across the water of the colonial center, but the views weren’t great and there was a plant puffing smoke into it all.  It just didn’t work.  To add salt to the wound, there was the craziest light and sky I’ve seen in a really long time, and I really didn’t have anything to shoot in the foreground of it.  Had I gone downtown, the light would have been amazing over the cathedrals and old architecture.  That said, I did get one or two images from the malecón that I liked.

Malecon, Cienfuegos, Cuba

Colonial center from my spot.

Malecon, Cienfuegos, Cuba

How crazy is this sky??

Malecon, Cienfuegos, Cuba

Enjoying the view at dusk.

Malecon, Cienfuegos, Cuba

Locals using the wifi at the waterfront.

The Plaza

I really liked the look of the plaza in Cienfuegos. In fact, I actually sat there and shot time lapse almost all day.  It was a cool little place to hang out.  Once the light started coming down, I shot some photos.  I didn’t get the greatest sky – like the night before – and the lack of clouds made the photos it a bit dull, but I did do some play with the sun coming down and got a couple decent blue hour photos of it all.

Malecon, Cienfuegos, Cuba

A classic car slips into my frame in the plaza.

Malecon, Cienfuegos, Cuba

A local hangs out as I shoot the cathedral.

Malecon, Cienfuegos, Cuba

One of the great buildings in the plaza.

Malecon, Cienfuegos, Cuba

Storm clouds in the distance.

Some Thoughts from Cienfuegos

As I mentioned in the intro, I really enjoyed Cienfuegos. But, it was another example of how planning a destination you’ve never been can be so hard.  I really didn’t need 2 full days in town.  Sure, if you’re a regular tourist you might want all that time to visit the various museums and such, but I really only needed a sunrise and sunset to capture what I needed.  It kind of became the story of my Cuba trip, I planned too much in advance and was kind of stuck to my schedule. That’s what I get for trying to be organized.  I think, had I known the lay of Cuba a bit better, I probably could have added another full destination into my schedule.  But, alas, I know better for next time.

Cienfuegos, Cuba

What’s Next on the Travel Photography Blog

I’m not done in Cuba. I’ve got at least 3 more episodes.  I’ve got a piece from Trinidad, one from Camaguey and Santa Clara, and one about shooting portraits in Cuba.  Then, I might do a bit of a round up on my Cuba imagery as well.  We’ll see.  Post-Cuba, I’m heading up to New York for a bit, and then back to Canada for the start of winter.



Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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