View Full Version : Sancti Spiritus Cuba rodeo - up close

Bob Michaels
11-23-2014, 18:02
The rodeo in Sancti Spiritus Cuba is one of my favorites since it has no spectator admission fee, no contestant entrance fee, no prize money or prizes for winners, only the winners being congratulated by those they beat. The contestants are all working cowboys riding their work horses. I keep thinking that this is what competitive sports should be like.

No problems photographing the rodeo with a 21mm lens from inside the arena as the Cuban system is based on acceptance of personal responsibility rather than fear of personal injury litigation. The only comment all day, beside greetings, was a competitor telling me "precaución, el toro es loco".

The sign reads: Rodeo - tradition, culture and work


Every cowboy wears the same flak jacket and helmet in bull riding. It is simply passed to the next competitor. These are working cowboys who need to be back on their horse the next day.


This young man is not old enough to compete so he just rode around all day socializing with the competitors and practicing his roping skills.


11-23-2014, 19:18
These are wonderful. I especially like the third one.

11-23-2014, 21:05
very nice! 21mm works great in this scene.

11-24-2014, 03:46
these were so enjoyable and evocative. i'd love to see more! which 21 were you using? remarkable how little distortion.

11-24-2014, 04:10
enjoyable series Bob, I always enjoy seeing your work. Having just played with a 21mm for the first time I appreciate what you've managed to do here!

11-24-2014, 08:31
Bob - you do have a way of getting off the beaten path. All three tell a story. I really like the image of the chamaco wearing the t-shirt that says "France Paris".

In Mexico, bull riding is called "Jaripeo" and one doesn't find the sport close to a tourist hotel.

The second photo shows a "respesto de seguridad" that you won't find in Central Mexico.

Look up "Jaripeo Potosino" on Google.

back alley
11-24-2014, 09:13
well done...like all 3 images!

robert blu
11-24-2014, 09:58
Great photos, all three. BUT...I love the third one! Not only because of the young boy practicing but also the cowboy on the background so serious, deep concentration I think.

11-24-2014, 10:05
Very nice, Bob

You have a great compassionate view of people and sub-cultures.

Liked you pictures. Loved your commentary.

Bob Michaels
11-24-2014, 13:26
I find that I must have a personal connection to a subject in order to photograph it.

I have no real connection to horses or horse competition in spite of being very supportive of my late wife's being an equestrian trainer and serious competitor (dressage) or our granddaughter's national competitive high ranking (hunter/jumper). I went to a lot of horse shows and know a bit about them but they just never clicked with me other than being supportive of family. My wife and granddaughter understood why I never brought a camera to their shows.

However Cuban culture and horses did click. It is basic down to earth utility and friendly but serious competition. No frills, no pretensions, just reality that I can relate to. This is the sort of thing that I can put my heart and soul into photographing.

11-24-2014, 13:36
Hi Bob!

Great shots, beautiful journey!

Please post more!

steve kessel
11-24-2014, 13:38
Great stuff. Thanks for sharing.

11-24-2014, 14:19
Bob--you may have posted this earlier--how do you get in and out of Cuba so easily?
My impression is that travel restrictions are still pretty heavy--great photos, BTW.

Bob Michaels
11-24-2014, 16:47
..... --how do you get in and out of Cuba so easily?
My impression is that travel restrictions are still pretty heavy-- ......

In great summary:

1) Cuba has no restrictions on entry, nor any once in the country. They love tourists, especially Americans who have money and spend it freely.

2) There are many ways an American can go to Cuba legally. This include traveling with a "cultural exchange" group, for educational purposes (Santa Fe Workshops holds many workshops in Havana), to sell agricultural products (the US sells Cuba 20% of the food they eat), for journalism, for academic research or the most popular to visit family. 635,000 Americans visited Cuba legally last year. There are 8-10 flights per day from Miami to various cities in Cuba.

3) Simply traveling illegally as the Cuba travel ban has not been enforced for 8 years. People just buy a ticket to Canada, Mexico City, or Nassau and then a separate ticket from there to Cuba and back.

Cuba is hardly an exotic destination except in the minds of some Americans.

Bob Michaels
11-24-2014, 17:02
Cuba is considered a "photographers paradise" but so many of the tourist photographers are less than stellar in their approach. They sometimes treat the Cuban people like they are photographing animals in a zoo.

These two nice ladies live around the corner from me in Havana but I have never photographed them. The three photographers ganging up on the ladies are part of a group of 7 Asians who my Cuban girlfriend is currently taking on a 2 week custom photo tour. I just hung up from a phone call with her. She says some of them are frequently quite demanding. (actually her language was much more graphic, but the way Cubans speak would be censored here)


11-24-2014, 17:06
Bob--you may have posted this earlier--how do you get in and out of Cuba so easily? My impression is that travel restrictions are still pretty heavy--great photos, BTW. Paul

AFAIK the restrictions are on the American side, not the Cuban side. The rest of the world can travel to Cuba quite easily. I spent three weeks there in December 2005/ January 2006 and loved it.

Bob, I really enjoy your Cuba photos and this series is no exception. Just wonderful. Please keep posting them!