Clay Cook explores Cuba with the B2 location kit.
THIS PAST FALL, I received a call regarding a project in Havana, Cuba, for the firm Blue equity. The project consisted of a twenty-page fashion editorial and a large feature on the rich culture, communist government and beautiful society of Cuba.
Cuba is still a communist country with a trade embargo, and we needed permission from the Cuban government for the shoot. For scouting, we hired a tour guide and consulted with the government for permission to host a production on each location. We wanted to scout the popular places, but also wanted to search the back-alleys and dirt paths.
Fashion in Cuba is huge. It’s a melting pot of style, filled with color, vibrancy and texture, with influences all over the map. The architecture varies from Spanish neoclassical to French-influenced art deco. It’s a visual paradise.
The creative directors, models, makeup artists, hair stylists, wardrobe designers, assistants, finance consultants, agency representatives, drivers, translators and the clients made up a team of over 40 people from both the United States and Cuba on set. It was chaos, but controlled chaos.
I knew we would be jumping from location to location, and carting a lot of lighting would be impractical. The Profoto B2 location Kit is portable and would be a good balance to the strong sunlight. We also brought a 46-inch umbrella to provide a soft fill.
This image comes from the beginning of the five-day production. During a quick morning scout of our first locale, I had stumbled upon a man selling coconuts in a small hut on the side of the road. When I saw the dramatic dappled light on a path beyond his hut, I knew this was our location. He appears in the background of this image.
Because of the sun, I needed to implement high-speed sync between my Phase One IQ250 medium-format camera and the B2 air remote, firing off at 1/640 of a second at f/11.
With our composition in mind, I directed our beautiful Cuban model Yessica Borroto into a statuesque pose on a tree stump. We had our shot in less than 20 frames.