During our last moments in Havana, I found that I spent much of my time looking, observing, and capturing with my camera. Taking mental visual notes with each click of the button. Wanting to document everything that caused me to gasp from the beauty that surrounded us. Fresh flowers, delicious coffee, fine collectibles, classic architecture, and a sunny breezy day in the tropics.
This visit was truly a dream come true to experience Cuba. I am not sure if I’ll ever have the opportunity to head back. I think these two thoughts often. Grateful for the opportunity to experience the new, and hopeful to return one day.
The last part of the road trip through Costa Rica was also the saddest and shortest. We had stayed the last few nights just a short distance from the airport at a beautiful eco-friendly resort in the heart of a coffee farm.
We left the farm after a great breakfast and took our time traveling through the residential areas near the airport. Bright colorful homes, busy intersections with commerce, and people working diligently at the height of the morning.
We were taking it all in. Breathing and photographing our last images of Costa Rica and emotionally processing the beauty and kindness of Costa Rica.
How is this possible? To have another day in Cuba? New experiences. Fresh tropical air. Friendly journeys.
We started out early one morning for a road trip out of Havana and into tobacco farms. Took a drive past some of the most beautiful historical landmarks of Havana. If those walls could talk, I am sure we would have heard of the struggle and the glamour that has taken place over the years. Our driver stopped for a break at a roadside cafe where we got to meet a few furry friends. We explored the very summit of Cuba as well as rode a horse through the countryside. The farmers took a break from their busy day to tell us how they grow tobacco for the world famous Cuban cigars, and we even had the opportunity of rolling our own cigar while sipping the local honey and rum. It was a full day. An unforgettable day. A day that makes you happy to be alive!
"The last 20 years of research, I’ve seen how sometimes we all get so afraid of the vulnerability that we actually stop trying or doing anything that we’re not already good at doing. So if it’s not already comfortable, if we already don’t have some expertise, if we don’t already know how to do it and do it well, we’re not doing it. Here’s what’s hard, and I think scary about that. When we give up being new and awkward, we stop growing, and we stop growing, we stop living. I love that quote from Shawshank Redemption, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” When we stop growing, we start declining, there’s no neutral here. When we no longer feel that discomfort of being new, of being an awkward learner, things start to shut down inside of us. The discomfort of exploration of doing new things, of being an awkward rookie again, that’s the juice, it’s our lifeblood. It’s the secret sauce." Brene Brown
One of the areas that I have photographically studied is the industrial age in The United States. The difference a few decades can make for an entire community is evident in these types of buildings.
There are structures throughout the country that were once thriving with daily work, invention, and manufacturing to now only be sold off for trendy loft furnishings or to be added to a collectors “in case I need this for later” box.
From room to room there is a hustle of vintagers hoping to find that precious antique piece, that if they sell it to the right collector, they will become billionaires. They aren’t wrong. The industrial age is a very cool age for all things vintage, but my main intrigue is to simply capture the portrait of these inanimate objects strun everywhere before the new fingerprints reach them. The dustier, the rustier, the better.
I often think of the mummified city of Pompeii when I visit these brick buildings. Over time, Pompeii has been unveiled in small portions at a time to show life at the very exact moment the smoke and fire reached them from the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius nearby.
Our petrification of the industrial age did not come by natural disaster. There was no Mt. Vesuvius that took out the old brick buildings in a matter of moments, but yet there are so many similarities. Brick mills, warehouses, manufacturing spaces have yet to be fully excavated in the US. When they are unveiled oftentimes all of the items can be found just as they were left several decades ago.
There was a moment when the last whistle blew permanently and the machinist walked away from their bench for the last time. Years later, I have come upon them and I’m moved to capture their portrait. I use the term portrait because these items have a story, have character and a purpose. When I find them, I can see how they were last used and how they have survived so many seasons. This space is their home and I can see what they were originally created to do. And click click click begins the study with my camera, the industrial piece, and me.
Here are more images of my travels throughout the world and our discoveries: PLACES
Image by Liz Davenport (2021)
environmental design by Sam Van Aken
Welcome to Convinced Photography with Cyle + Liz Davenport. During our 20+ years of photography experience we have had the opportunity to live and work in lots of great places around the world.