Store Gallery for November 2021: Brooke Hoyer: Havana Vieja
Why Cuba? The answer is multifaceted. It began as a casual suggestion made by one of my friends after seeing some photos I shot in Miami’s South Beach. My late father had a fascination with Cuba and Fidel Castro so that offhand suggestion found a fertile place to germinate. I was going through a divorce that had me questioning many basic personal assumptions about myself. I spoke practically no Spanish and booked the trip by the seat of my pants and ventured to Havana alone on an adventure I hoped would teach me lessons about who I am.
I arrived in Cuba with no specific agenda other than to travel the city on foot with my camera. I am interested in portraying with varying levels of context depending on the story I want to project. I used to claim to be a street photographer but the modern interpretation of that moniker feels restricting and many of the images seem cold; placing people as apparatus in the spaces humans have created. As such, I would rather present people being humans rather than set pieces on a stage. My days quickly assumed a pattern: breakfast with my hosts; meander to a café on Plaza Vieja to have an cappuccino; wander in new directions until the heat of the day started to build; visit a bar on the Prado to have a sandwich and a couple mojitos; sit in the shade on the Prado as the sea breeze wafted along the promenade; siesta in my room; find dinner at a palador; wander closer to home; arrive on the Malecon in time for the sunset; enjoy the cool of evening; return to my room to read and sleep. The street life in Havana is marked by the socialist dictatorship. People wait, they run their hustles, they do what they need to get by. The languid nature of so many of the people is tied to the poverty and lack of opportunity for meaningful work that pervades the island. Housing shortages resulting in cramped apartments shared with extended family, means that Havana’s living room is on the street. Which is what I ultimately hoped to capture in my photographs.
I'm Brooke Hoyer, a photographer with a day job. I've been taking pictures since I was 7 years old when I borrowed my father's Kodak Instamatic to immortalize my plastic dinosaurs in dramatic pose. I regret to this day that there was no film in the camera. After seriously considering getting a BFA in photography, I chickened out and drifted away from photography. I've been a rock climber and a bike racer but in 2012 I suffered my second stroke which put an end to my rather physically demanding pastimes. I am the kind of person who needs a challenge so I rediscovered photography. I love the outdoors and I am fascinated by people. Consequently I shoot a lot of landscapes and a lot of street. I use landscape photography as an excuse to get out in the world, especially with my kids, and enjoy the many wonders of our Earth. Street photography allows me to observe and comment on the myriad interesting people who surround us and with whom we interact every day.
Stop by the Store Gallery (to the left immediately when you walk in) for the month of November to see these images up close.
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