Explore Baracoa and Santiago de Cuba

Workshop Summary

Photographers Jennifer Spelman and Carlos Otero Blanco journey with you for a 10-day workshop to Cuba’s eastern coast.

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Nov. 15 – 24, 2024

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Group Size

7 People

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Activity Level

Moderate, some walking with stairs, walking on uneven terrain.

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$5,900 (shared room)

Workshop Details

Vibrant Santiago de Cuba

Even before your flight touches down in Santiago de Cuba, you’ll feel the island’s pulsating energy beckoning you to join in with its vibe. We ready our cameras to seize for ourselves images that preserve sights and sensations of the vibrant street life that awaits, anxious to capture the essence of Cuba’s second largest city, frame-by-frame.

Santigao de Cuba street scene by Jennifer Spelman

© Jennifer Spelman

Baracoa, Cuba at dusk by Jennifer Spelman

© Jennifer Spelman

Discover the Enchantment of Baracoa

Join us as we are drawn by the allure of magical Baracoa, the “First City” of Cuba. Immerse yourself in its rich visual and cultural tapestry woven by the sweat of the indigenous Taíno people, the explorations of Christopher Columbus, and the echoes of revolutionary fervor. Today, Baracoa stands as a rarely-traveled paradise, where wide rivers and breathtaking coastlines reflect the warmth of its welcoming people.

Creativity in Every Frame

With your camera in hand, you will interpret the beauty and complexity of eastern Cuba through your personal creative filters into captivating images. Under the guidance of Jennifer Spelman and Carlos Otero, you’ll refine both your artistic vision and technical prowess. We’ve carefully curated exclusive locations and delightful encounters offering a multi-layered canvas for your creativity, far from the distractions of ordinary life.

Portrait of Rosa Esther Rodriguez Mosqueda in her house, Baracoa, Cuba by Carlos Otero Blanco

© Carlos Otero Blanco

Boys viewed through windows of antique car, Baracoa, Cuba by Jennifer Spelman

© Jennifer Spelman

Connect Deeply with Cuba’s Soul

Embark on a journey of connection, both with fellow photography enthusiasts and the vibrant people of Cuba. From visual artists and musicians, schoolchildren and their families, farmers and beachgoers, taxi drivers and doctors, Cubans are eager to engage with you in a cultural dialogue that transcends language. Become part of a vibrant community that celebrates all the visual arts born from these intercultural experiences.

A Unique Experience

Experience the unexpected delights waiting around every corner as we discover, create, and connect. Carlos and Jennifer are well-acquainted with the breathtaking sites and unique opportunities here. They can’t wait to share it all with you on this unforgettable photographic odyssey across eastern Cuba’s picturesque villages and hidden landscapes.

Beach scene with antique car, Yumury, Baracoa, Cuba by Carlos Otero Blanco

© Carlos Otero Blanco

Itinerary Highlights

  • Step into a world where nature’s grandeur and human warmth coalesce. Embark on an adventure across landscapes rich with stories steeped deep in the heart of Eastern Cuba’s mystique.
  • Experience the lively streets of Santiago de Cuba.
  • Walk up a road lined with vendors selling sunflowers to visit the historic cathedral that houses La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre. Cubans pilgrimage from across the island to pay homage to this Saint. Peer just beyond the cathedral and it’s possible to see the road leading into the nearby copper mine.
  • Travel up the Miel, Toa and Duaba rivers where you will meet communities of welcoming Cubans who live in tandem with the water and mountains that surround them.
  • Witness the simplicity and the beauty of Cuban countryside daily life, such as women washing clothes by the river, families tending their crops and livestock, and coconut farmers sharing stories over coffee in the shade. Each encounter presents fresh opportunities to create images that resonate with meaning.
  • Visit an authentic, operating cacao plantation where you will learn about this region’s deep, fascinating traditions in chocolate production.
  • As our trip culminates, we gather for a final group dinner in Santiago, celebrating the connections forged, the images captured and the stories shared. This experience isn’t just about taking photos — it’s about expanding our narrative abilities and honoring the lives of those beautiful people and places we’ve photographed.
Exterior view of hotel in Santiago de Cuba

Santiago de Cuba Accommodations

While in Santiago de Cuba, we will relax and renew as a group in a charming hotel that boasts interesting colonial architecture, conveniently located right in the heart of the city. The hotel invites guests to make themselves at home in the comfortable rooms, and urges us to experience the thrill of live music with rooftop cocktails while absorbing expansive views of the city.

Baracoa Accommodations

Our oasis in Baracoa will be a private hostel that marries colonial with modern architectural styles and appointments. Each room provides a private bathroom, delicious air conditioning, a minibar and a hairdryer. From our location, it’s an easy stroll both to the ocean and to the city’s center.

Hotel interior, Baracoa, Cuba
Fototeca de Cuba in Havana, Cuba

Travel to Cuba Legally

This trip allows US citizens to travel legally to Cuba under the People-to-People General License for educational exchanges (Title 31 CFR § 515.560). We focus on authentic connections and meaningful interactions, capturing the spirit of the Cuban people through our lenses.

Publish Your Photography

Join the community of photographers who share their images between (and on) the covers of CubaSeen, our photo zine showcasing the best of photography about Cuba. As a participant on this trip you may submit images for our next issue free of charge.

Your Instructors

Jennifer Spelman

Jennifer Spelman

Trip Leader | Co-Founder

Jennifer Spelman is a documentary photographer, educator and workshop leader based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has worked extensively across Cuba since 2011.

During over sixty visits to the island, she’s experienced the friendly generosity of a people always willing to share conversation and a cup of coffee. She has come to understand that to be Cuban is to greet adversity with ingenuity, patience and humor. Life in Cuba is lived on the streets, and Jennifer is happiest amidst their constant motion and layered serendipity.

She co-founded OneWorldSeen in 2021 and co-publishes its photo zine, CubaSeen.

Jennifer is a patient educator who has co-instructed with Santa Fe Workshops and National Geographic Expeditions. Among her many other photography-related endeavors, she has traveled extensively, teaching workshops in Turkey, Morocco, India, Romania, Spain, Mexico, Japan, India, and Cuba.

Website: jenniferspelman.com

Carlos Otero Blanco

Carlos Otero Blanco

Partner | Resident Cuban Expert & Guide

Carlos Otero Blanco is a dynamic photographer who specializes in inventive conceptual projects and creative underwater photography. His wide range of thematic interests spans documentary photography, portraiture, and nature.

Carlos may be best known for his sensitive photographic study of Cuban bedrooms, with hundreds photographed since 2009. The exquisite images were published in his book, Dormir con… (To Sleep with…), co-authored with Enrique Rottenberg, which has been shown in several national and international exhibits, and was featured in The New York Times, among other publications.

Born and raised in Havana, Carlos knows Cuba He has explored its rivers, its shorelines, its cities and villages, its mountains, its farmland and, most intimately, its people. His many friends across the island light up whenever he arrives. His wit and character are threaded throughout his vividly expressive portrait series, Cuba Vive, and are readily recognizable within his diverse selection of photographic subjects from around and across the island.

Carlos has a deep commitment to the natural world, and relishes adventure photography. He has participated in studies of subaquatic archeology, and holds several divemaster and instructor titles, as well as numerous awards for his spectacular underwater photography.

Instagram: @oteroblancocu

What's Covered?


  • Lodging with breakfast all days
  • 5 lunches and 5 dinners
  • Transportation within Cuba, including airport pick-up and drop-off
  • Model and location fees
  • Please review our Terms and Conditions before registering

Not Included

  • Airfare to/from Santiago de Cuba (SCU)
  • Meals and incidentals not listed as included
  • Visas and mandatory Cuban health insurance. This is available for purchase from your airline with prices varying from $50-85
  • Travel insurance, which we highly recommend