When I travel to Cuba, I look forward to seeing my friend Pablo. I have spoken with and photographed Pablo each time I’ve been to Cuba. Last year, I had the humbling experience of being invited into his home. It was an experience I will never forget. One that gave me a deeper understanding of what poverty looks and feels like. One that reminded me of how blessed I truly am. This year, I learned the sad news that his wife passed away last July. It was apparent that Pablo was heartbroken as he spoke of her passing. He looked to have aged greatly since our visit last year. As we spoke, he shared that he did not think he would make it much longer himself. He has a number health issues and I got the impression he is losing his will to live. It will be sad to return to Cuba and not see my friend Pablo. I am grateful for the lessons he has taught me.

For fun  I have added a third picture below that was taken on my first trip in 2012. Yes, I believe he is wearing the same shirt and hat 3 years later. It is also interesting to see the difference time of day and reflected light make on the tonality of the 2012 image.






[Tweet “Pablo – Trinidad Cuba”]

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  1. Elliot Barnathan June 3, 2015 at 9:10 am #

    I have never been to Cuba, but I feel like I know Pablo. Michel took a similar photo with his wife in it. Sorry to hear the news of her passing.

    • JB June 3, 2015 at 9:15 am #

      Indeed Michel did. I was standing right next to him and have a very similar picture. A personal favorite image. I believe Michel won and award for his image. It is excellent.

  2. Steve L June 3, 2015 at 9:44 am #


    • JB June 3, 2015 at 9:58 am #

      Thank you Steve.

  3. Howard Grill June 3, 2015 at 9:48 am #

    Wow, fantastic and very personal feeling portraits. That last one has a certain ‘styelized’ look to it. Just wondering what you used to process it?

    • JB June 3, 2015 at 9:58 am #

      Just “normal” Lightroom processing Howard and then I hit it with Perfectly Clear. Kind of a backward way to use PC but It works a lot so I always try it.

  4. Janice June 3, 2015 at 11:19 am #

    Very touching, John. There is such a difference in the angle of his head between the bottom picture the top. So much sadder. And the darkness of the top one adds to that. I’m glad he has made friends with you.

    • JB June 3, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

      Thank you for your kind comment Janice. Yes you can see the difference. Very sad.

  5. Stephan Dietrich June 3, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    Awe-inspiring story and images JB! Your relationship and mutual respect with Pablo really shows in these images. Sorry to read about his wife. Pablo’s eyes and pose definitely show a different spirit from your prior images.

    It is one thing going around and taking pictures in haste and without pause… It is another to make and take the time to become familiar with what you are photographing beyond looking through the camera.

  6. Flint Sparks June 3, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

    It is apparent in the images that he may have lost some of his spirit with his wife’s passing, but what we all need, even when it is time to go, is a friend to be with us, to listen to us, to witness our grief, and to encourage us to live on into our truth. Sounds like you are one of those people for Pablo, even for those brief moments these past several years.

    • JB June 3, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

      I believe you’re right Flint. On this trip I was conscious of connecting and giving rather than always taking. As such, I came home feeing much better about the experience.

  7. Felice June 3, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

    Powerful picture storytelling. Good documentary, John

    • JB June 3, 2015 at 7:14 pm #

      Thank you Felice.

  8. Marzena June 3, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

    Tomasz and I have so many similar pictures of him from our trip two years ago, or is that 3 already? It’s a such a powerful face, but shame of me, I never knew his name. Thank you for that story John…Pablos face is definitely sadder now…

  9. james milligan June 5, 2015 at 8:53 pm #

    You are blessed to have had the chance to make a personal connection with an individual that you were able to connect with on a very deep level. I wish more of our leaders were able to feel the pain of our disadvantaged and show some compassion for those who are less privileged .

    • Carla June 9, 2015 at 5:02 pm #

      Jim’s response really hit me! But we all know that John is different than most other people!!

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