The Cubans by Jay Seldin is a book of atmospheric portraits of the Cuban people taken while they're going about their daily lives. Though outsiders expect Cuba to be a colorful place, surprisingly, the book is all in black and white and this lends to the moodiness of the photos. It also gives the feeling that Cuba is perhaps stuck in a different era. This is supported by the old kitchens, cars and cameras in the photos.
The people look surprisingly resilient amidst the fraying buildings. Boxers, ballerinas and believers are all captured by Seldin, who traveled to Cuba many times over 10 years. From tobacco workers to May Day celebrants to schoolchildren he gives us a rounded look at the Cubans.
Even though I've known about the embargo my whole life, I was alarmed by the amount of squalor in the photos. In some, people's homes are crumbling around them. It reminded me more of my travels around India rather than what I picture in the Caribbean. I was also surprised a foreigner was able to get access to these shots, even showing people asleep in their homes. Yet the citizens don't seem especially disturbed by the circumstances around them, with both smiling and serious faces, and jubilant and thoughtful expressions.
There is a startling truth to these photos which is what all photographers are after. To buy the book or look at some of the photos, check Seldin's website: http://www.jayseldinphotos.com/.