Cinematic Portraits Capture the Warm Glow of the Streets and People of Cuba

Stijn Hoekstra portrait Cuba

Photographer Stijn Hoekstra—who we recently interviewed—is fresh off a three-week trip to Cuba and has generously sent us some of the cinematic photos he captured along the way. Applying his signature style, born from his work in cinematography, he succeeds in showing a different side to this culturally rich country.

Like many photographers, Hoekstra had long been fascinated with Cuba and relished the idea of capturing the country through his camera. The Dutch photographer spent one week soaking in Havana, before moving on to Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, and Vinales in order to get a full picture of urban and rural life. “I only planned a few interesting places that I really wanted to visit but most of the time I just wandered around not knowing what to expect around the corner,” he writes us via email.

Hoekstra's images have a timeless feel, bathed in the warm light of the Cuban sun or bursting with the vibrant color of painted houses. “For this trip I took my Sony A7rII, but I wanted to give to photos a special touch, therefore, I brought my old M42 lenses from the 70's,” he shares. “The flare and bokeh is gorgeous and really fits perfect with the old Cuba.”

Separating his photographs into two separate series—street photography and portraits—it's impossible not to be drawn to Hoekstra's ability to capture the soul of his subjects. In fact, he hadn't planned on taking many portraits, but his time in contact with locals changed his mind. “The other thing I really forced myself into was taking portraits, on previous projects it was all about the streets but the Cuban people are so kind and photogenic that it's hard not to take their portrait. I always first ask if I can take someone's picture, and no one really rejected me, they were all very pleased.”

Dutch cinematographer and photographer Stijn Hoekstra recently spent three weeks traveling around Cuba, shooting his cinematic photography along the way.

Stijn Hoekstra photos of Cuba Stijn Hoekstra photos of Cuba Stijn Hoekstra Cuba Photos Stijn Hoekstra Cuba Photography Stijn Hoekstra photos of Cuba

During his time in Cuba Hoekstra especially focused on portrait photography, drawing out the character of his subjects.

Stijn Hoekstra photos of Cuba Stijn Hoekstra portrait Cuba Stijn Hoekstra photos of Cuba Stijn Hoekstra Cuba Photography Stijn Hoekstra Cuba Photography Stijn Hoekstra Cuba Photos Stijn Hoekstra Cuba Photos

Hoekstra's top tip for visiting Cuba? Stay in a Casa Particular. “It's the best way to experience the way the Cuban people live.”

Stijn Hoekstra street photography Cuba Stijn Hoekstra street photography Cuba Stijn Hoekstra photos of Cuba Stijn Hoekstra photos of Cuba Stijn Hoekstra street photography Cuba

Stijn Hoekstra: Website | Instagram | Vimeo

My Modern Met granted permission to use images by Stijn Hoekstra.

Related Articles:

Interview: Cinematic Photos Capture the Traditional and Modern Essence of Tokyo

Interview: American Photographer Captures Everyday Life in Cuba, Feels Like He Went Back in Time

Photographer Captures Empowering Portraits of Cuban Women’s Subtle Strength

Photographers Document the Soulful Streets of Havana During Obama’s Visit to Cuba

Beautiful Aerial Portraits of Classic Taxis Showcase Daily Life in Cuba

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content