Yet another beautiful book has been released on Cuba. You know how much I can’t stand to see those generic Cuban images coming out of the country with 1950’s pastel cars and ladies with cigars in her mouths. Obviously these images exist in Cuba, its just that I like it when photographers dig deeper, and see the country with unique eyes.
Case in point: “Camp Adentro” (deep within the country), a photo narrative by Philadelphia-area photographer Susan S. Banks. She studied with Mary Ellen Mark in Oaxaca, Mexico. Mary taught Susan the value of developing a photo essay.
When I see these images, it brings me back to that place of my favorite Cuban music — the 1930’s era of music created in these exact areas — “guajiro” music as they call. It’s a combo of folk, country, blues, and straight-up peasant music — very SOULFUL. Guajiro is like Cuban country music, guitar driven, and Spanish as much as its Afro.
Susan stumbled upon this family in Pinar Del Rio. They are a group of tobacco farmers who have never been photographed before. Even more so, this family grows all their own food, gets by without electricity, and has no needs for telephones, much less own one. It’s a world that is part country, part gypsy, but all about family, neighbors, animals, valley, and tobacco. This is as raw as raw can get.
The photos are as strong as a good poem. Susan shoots in 35mm, handheld Leica M6 and natural light.
The book is available now.