This blog post will be split into two parts, this will cover the portraits I took over the course of my 23 days in Cuba. A separate post will cover travel tips and what I learned for anyone planning on traveling to Cuba in the near future (some tips will be particularly helpful to US citizens).
I didn't have a specific vision in terms of what I wanted to produce from my trip to Cuba. Aside from knowing that I'd want to take some portraits, I primarily wanted to avoid the typical images you see of Cuba; ie the street performers that essentially just pose with massive cigars and ask for CUC in exchange for photos. I wanted to capture something authentic from Cuba, but I didn't want to apply my own preconceptions of the country to the photos.
My main portrait kit was my trusty Canon 5d mark IV, along with the amazing Canon L 24-70 II f2.8 and Canon L 50mm f1.2. I ended up using the 24-70 for all of the portraits as I preferred to have the flexibility between framing a wide environmental portrait at 24-35mm and then a tighter shot at 50-70mm. For walking around, I decided to bring a small Sony kit; an A6500, Sony 10-18mm f4 lens (which was my most used street photography lens), Sigma 30mm f1.4 (super sharp), Sony 50 f1.8 OSS (used very rarely), and a Sony 55-210 kit telephoto lens. I ended up using the telephoto lens quite a bit for landscape shots.
Lighting wise, I brought two Godox AD200 "pocket strobes", two Godox X1T-C triggers (which also work on the Sony A6500 albeit without HSS or TTL), a manfrotto nano light stand, a Westcott Joel Grimes Collapsible 24" Beauty Dish in bowens mount, a Godox s-type adapter, a 51" Paul C Buff PLM white shoot through umbrella with diffusion and black backing, and a tripod that doubled as a second light stand when needed.