The Faces of Stijn Hoekstra’s Cinematic Cuba Show Connection Between Subject and Photographer

All images by Stijn Hoekstra. Used with Creative Commons Permission.

We’ve all seen the photos and movies that show the picturesque, cinematic Cuba. Creating a picture of a place through its people is one effective way to show the essence of a destination; and this portrait set taken by Amsterdam-based Stijn Hoekstra around Cuba is a great example. If you’re looking for some inspiration in the realm of travel photography, portraiture, and even street photography, his version of a “Cinematic Cuba” will certainly do the trick.

Instead of making candid street snaps of people going about their days during his three-week holiday in the Caribbean island nation, Stijn did what many of us are still hesitant about: getting close to his subjects, interacting with them, and making a connection. This resulted in photos revealing some interesting characters. The attention to detail is also impressive — notice how the repeating combinations of straw and felt hats, the world-famous Cuban cigar, and rural backgrounds paint a picture of Cuba’s more laid-back parts.


Another outstanding thing to note is his choice of subjects itself – showing us people from all walks of life, background, age, and profession. Browsing through his portraits feels like being taken around the towns and introduced to the whole neighborhood. For the finishing touch on his visual narrative about Cuba’s interesting characters, Stijn painted his images with bold colors and cinematic tones, this choice is mostly obvious given that he’s also a cinematographer. That said, his eye for scenes made for the movies also bleeds into his composition and framing in portraiture.

If the characters of his “Cinematic Cuba” don’t make you want to pack your bags and fly to Cuba to meet and photograph these people yourself, we don’t know what else will.

If you were inspired by these photos, make sure to check out the rest of Stijn’s Cuba portraits on his Behance page.