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Cuba: Aspen photographer’s best trip yet

Diane MooreA Cuba man moved goods in a horse cart along The Prado, one of the main boulevards in Havana.
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ASPEN – Photographer Diane Moore has always been intrigued by Cuba – not only while living in south Florida for eight years but also since moving to Aspen 20 years ago.

“Every time I saw images of Cuba, I thought, ‘Wow – it’s just eye candy,’ for lack of a better phrase,” she said.

So she jumped at the chance to travel to the island, legally, in February 2011 for a photography workshop led by her friend, Lorne Resnick. His approach was to encourage his dozen students to scatter individually on foot throughout Havana, small colonial towns and agricultural areas they visited as a group.

Moore was enthralled by poking her head into small shops and businesses in the working-class areas of Havana, asking for permission to enter. She got to meet and photograph women toiling in small sewing shops, men tinkering in electronics-repair shops and barbers cutting hair.

In Pinar del Rio province, two hours from Havana, she visited a small farm in one of the greatest tobacco-growing areas in the world. Again she was able to photograph workers in the fields and expert cigar rollers plying their craft.

Everywhere she went, the natives were eager to learn about her life and living in the United States. She would stumble through the conversation with limited Spanish-speaking skills. Her hosts knew little English. They still managed to connect.

She would invariably show her subjects the photos she took of them by looking through the digital camera’s display screen, a process called chimping. They were delighted.

She was fascinated to find the simpler, slower way of life often described in Cuba is real, not a myth or unsubstantiated stereotype. Some Cubans still travel by horse cart. Very few families can afford their own cars.

“Things happen at a different pace,” Moore said. “Their outside world is so limited. You are stepping back in time.”

Moore will present her photographs and stories at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies office at Hallam Lake. It is free for members and $5 for nonmembers. Moore’s presentation is part of the popular Potbelly Perspectives series, which allows Roaring Fork Valley residents to share their cool and unique travel and outdoor experiences. Her presentation is called “Caribbean: Impressions of Cuba – Havana to Trinidad.”

Before she devoted her time to pursuing her passion for photography, Moore was the planning director for the city of Aspen and was president and CEO of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association. As a photographer, she specializes in travel, environmental-portrait and fine-art photography. She has photographed extensively throughout Europe, South Africa and Latin America, but she found Cuba special.

“I’d say it’s right there at the top,” Moore said. “The reason I would say that is the people.”

She found it particular gratifying to visit Cuba at a time when there is still that old-world charm, slower pace of life and escape from the pressures of just about everywhere else. Once the country opens up to the outside world, she’s uncertain how much that feel will be preserved.

“I must say I was really motivated to go on the trip before the floodgates open,” Moore said.

Her hope is that the everyday working-class people she met on her trip reap some of the benefits once Cuba does open up. She doesn’t want to see their lives altered without economic benefits.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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