Cobblestone streets, colorful architecture, and expansive mountain ranges with Cubans and tourists from around the world working, playing, and intermingling create an atmosphere perfect for photography that is distinct to the beautiful town of Trinidad, Cuba. Cowboys lead tourists through the winding, hilly streets as Trinitarians go about their everyday business, all forming a great background for photographers to capture stunning scenes. It can be very confusing at first, but getting a grip on the landscape will allow you to navigate and photograph Trinidad with ease.
Up in the northern part of the city you will find yourself immersed in the street life of Trinidad, largely untouched by tourism. Cats and dogs wandering among houses, housewives preparing dinner for their families, children in the streets kicking around a soccer ball, women gathered around a table shuffling dominos, and toddlers clinging to the doorways of their homes are just a few of the sights to be seen in this area. Shooting around 5:00 or 6:00 PM local time, the so-called “Golden Hour”, will provide great lighting that is not too intense for photographs and make traversing the hills in the often steamy heat less uncomfortable.
After wandering the alleys and streets of the hillside areas of the city, make your way just a little north to the intersection of Calle Real del Sigue and Calle Nueva. The crossroad itself is a hub for everyday activities of the townspeople. You may even see a man carrying a dead chicken off to be butchered along with other surprising sites. Following Calle Nueva will take you downhill out of the city. Here you can catch a raw glimpse at the rural lifestyle of Cuba such as ranchers, farmers, and cart drivers navigating their steeds in and out of the city. Packs of locals make their way up the steep path; a buffer between the two worlds. The street leads to a serene view of the countryside with mountains rising in the background. Photographers may continue down this road as far as they please; staying left on the road will lead you to the Rio Guaurabo, a river flowing all the way down to the coast. To capture the most detail of the mountainside, an early morning or late afternoon shoot would be preferable. Shooting around 7:45 PM provides excellent lighting for the landscape but not moving subjects in the foreground. Any photographer visiting Trinidad should also be aware of frequent weather changes that occur; the tropical climate brings with it bursts of storms and fog on many days – frequently checking the forecast to avoid any issues on a photographic excursion is highly recommended.
Plaza de las Tres Cruces (Plaza of the Three Crosses) is only a few blocks from Calle Nueva and is an excellent spot to capture more life in Trinidad. Young children play freely in the courtyard during the evening, and there is high traffic of townspeople passing through, often times carrying purchases from the market back to their homes. During the daytime, a gruesome pig’s head hangs motionless in the window of a butcher’s shop as the butcher coldly stares out at those who pass by. To capture the fast-paced action of the location, shooting before 7:00 PM is ideal, although the lighting after this time amplifies the stunning array of colors found in the multi-hued homes around the plaza.
The Plaza Mayor serves as a perfect spot to seize images of the historic architecture just before the sun’s setting. The Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad (Church of the Holy Trinity) stands boldly at the edge of the plaza; its muted, light yellow color contrasts exquisitely with the fading orange light emitted from the sun at dusk. Tourists and locals alike stop on its stairs to rest during the day, joined by musicians playing traditional Cuban music and vendors selling hand-crafted souvenirs. The juxtaposition of the open space of the courtyard with its chipped white fencing and the myriad of pastel-colored homes surrounding the area also make for a great photo. Each homestead expands further than each doorframe; you can determine where they separate by the design of the roofs, which mark the end of one home and the beginning of the next. On the southern edge of the square, the Palacio Cantero, a 19th-century colonial mansion turned into a history museum, offers a stunning view of the terra-cotta roofs below, the expansive cityscape and the winding coastline. The overlook from the tower is accessible by steep, narrow stairs that lead to its top.
Enjoy a refreshing mixed drink and one of many fine dining options as the sun sets behind the mountains from the rooftop of the Vista Gourmet restaurant. Tourists gather under the ambient strings of lights atop the restaurant to enjoy the rare view that is a simple, yet rewarding capture. Peaks of the architecture are silhouetted by the fading, well-defined sun, creating an atmosphere which reminds the visitor of a Tuscan landscape. It is truly an unforgettable experience as it is the perfect way to end a day shooting the historic city of Trinidad.
No matter where you choose to photograph in Trinidad, there are sure to be a range of scenes to capture. Julio Munoz, a resident of the city and respected street photographer believes “everything is completely random”. There is no guarantee every shoot will be successful; it takes patience and preparedness to create the perfect image. Following this guide will help put you in the position to freeze these iconic moments while alleviating the confusion of shooting in a new environment. Trinidad is a wonder waiting to be explored, and with the proper information and a sharp eye it may just be the most exciting adventure of your life!
Callejon de Galdos s/n E/ Ernesto V. Munoz y Callejon de Gallegos
Telephone: (+53) 41 99 67 00
Opening Hours: 7:00 PM – 10:30 PM
Hill Spot to Start Street Photo Tour:
Intersection of Calle Jurabaina and Callejon del Lucero
Plaza de las Tres Cruces:
Intersection of Calle Amargura and Calle San Antonio
Calle Desengano 423
Opening Hours: Monday-Thursday, Saturday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Closed Friday and Sunday)
Cost: 2 CUC
Intersection before going down hill:
Intersection of Calle Real del Sigue and Calle Nueva (Calle nueva takes you down the hill to countryside)