Last Updated on 10/22/2018 by Mark Beckenbach
All images by Bax+Towner. Used with Creative Commons permission.
When Jason Bax and John Towner, more popularly known as the commercial photography duo Bax+Towner, went to Cuba in March 2018, one of their main goals was to meet and take portraits of the tobacco farmers working in the fields of Viñales. The resulting series is called The Farmers of Viñales and it’s exactly what it says on the tin. The Oakland, California-based duo shot the men as they tilled the soil and harvested crops, with each image looking unsurprisingly like a print ad.
In March of 2018, we traveled to Cuba to work with tobacco farmers of Viñales and create a body of portrait work documenting their daily lives. While Viñales is becoming more and more popular with tourists and the local economy is transitioning to one increasingly marketed to accommodate the wave of Europeans and Americans that visit every year, real work is still being done by multi-generational farmers. Indeed, most of the farmers we met had been working the land all their lives, sowing and harvesting the same plots their parents worked before the revolution.
With calloused hands and sunbaked skin, these men appear rough-edged and coarse. Yet to a person, they generously gave of their time, proudly showing us their land and livestock, and made every effort to make us feel welcome.
What I find most fascinating about these images are all the tiny details that help convey the unspoken story of Viñales tobacco farmers, who had been doing this work all their lives; the lines on their faces, the dirt on their clothes, their calloused hands.