One of the compelling attractions of Cuba is its stunning physical beauty—the verdant lush of its countryside, the kaleidoscope of its pastel streetscapes—and the equally stunning beauty of its people. In a collection of spectacular images, Canadian-American photographer Lorne Resnick captures both in his new book CUBA: This Moment Exactly So.
Light plays a big part in Resnick’s collection of lustrous images, from a steel blue afternoon on a Trinidad side street to a saffron dawn on Havana’s iconic Malecon. His capture of color and contrast, so stark under Cuba’s tropical sun, is perfect.
But it is Resnick’s focus on people that makes CUBA: This Moment Exactly So, such a captivating book. From school children to professional ballerinas, from prizefighters to factory workers, from one face to the next, Resnick captures the essence of the Cuban swagger, the inherent pride and spirit of its ordinary citizens.
The book is also a time capsule of Resnick’s love affair with Cuba, which began with his first visit in the summer of 1995, when he could enter freely as a Canadian citizen (he has since obtained dual US citizenship).
“I was attracted by the mystery, history, and photographic possibilities of the island,” Resnick told Cuba Trade. “My second day there, I went to a club called the Palacio de la Salsa at the Hotel Riviera on the Malecón, where a fifteen-piece Cuban orchestra of world-class musicians was playing to a jam-packed crowd of the best dancers on the planet. I was mesmerized. I was hypnotized. I was awe-struck. The sweat, the heat, the sensually glorious dancing, the loud music, the electricity in the air. I planned to stay for two weeks and stayed for two months. I fell in love with the country.”
Over the ensuing two decades, Resnick continued to return and photograph the island (he has visited some 60 times), which became so interwoven with his own life that he proposed to his wife atop the lighthouse of Morro Castle. In an act of warm-hearted sympathy, the Cuban lighthouse keeper let the happy couple drink their champagne and watch the sunset after closing, so long as they would lock up.
“He left us alone atop the lighthouse in a four-hundred-twenty-five-year-old castle guarding the entrance to Havana,” recalls Resnick. “It was a surreal and sublime moment.” Many were to follow, with camera often in hand.
Annie Leibovitz once said: “A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.” That is clearly apparent in virtually every image of Resnick’s extraordinary collection of captured moments.
“The key is how to make someone else who wasn’t standing next to you when you took that image to feel the same way about it you do,” says Resnick. “I want to create images that communicate the elation I feel every second when I’m in Cuba. It is a feeling like no other.”
A native of Toronto, Canada, award-winning travel photographer Lorne Resnick has lived in Los Angeles since 1999, where he works on commercial photography projects and teaches travel photography workshops, many in Cuba.