As most of you may know (and for those of you who don't, welcome to a fun story) I was given the honour of travelling to Cuba for a total of seven days to photograph my very first destination wedding alongside my good friend and fellow photographer Avan Patel. This was also my very first time on a plane, and very first time off of the continent! You can only imagine how excited and nervous I was about this. I knew this was going to be a memorable experience, I just didn't realize HOW memorable (more on that later.)
The plane ride was magical. I got a window seat and I spent 95% of the 3 hour plane ride looking out and seeing the world from this new perspective. The other 5% was reading, but that didn't last very long. I had heard so many wonderful things from friends and family visiting this beautiful island and had so many expectations. I did not expect to spend as much time just trying to get out of the Cuban airport but boy was it worth it! Stepping out those doors into the humid, warm, tropical air was SO refreshing!
I'm not going to tell you every aspect of the entire trip because let's be realistic, you probably don't want to read about all that. I'll just get to the highlights! The ocean was a heck of a lot saltier than I expected, the resort was beautiful, "Cuban time" is a real thing and it was so interesting, they are definitely not skimpy on the alcohol on resorts, Cuban people are the kindest especially if you are kind to them, and the concept of "all inclusive" freaked me out and I couldn't wrap my head around it for some reason. As for the wedding party and families, every single person was so kind, caring, fun, and I couldn't have asked for a better group of people.
The wedding day came and Avan and I had already been scouting locations and planning our shot list for a couple days so I was beyond excited. Our day started off at 8:30am with all the details including the dress shot. If I've lost you already, this is the time to tune back in because this is where things get... interesting. Avan and I had the dress shot planned out so we went to our location, tried a couple shots, but it just wasn't working the way we wanted it to. It was time for a Plan B! We wanted to get the dress in an atmosphere that said 'tropical' so my next thought was "why don't we hang it in a tree?!".
We made our way to a walkway where there was groups of different trees and found one that was on the smaller side and therefore easier to hang the dress from. Both of us where still too short to hang it by simply reaching so I, being the one who always offers to do something crazy for a good image, decided to climb said tree and hang the dress. Avan told me I was crazy and told me NOT to do it, but it is such a simple task, right? As I had my legs wrapped around this big branch and I am hanging upside down, I reached for a different branch to lift myself up and as my hand grasped it I knew I was done for. I heard Avan say "Wow, you really were a monkey when you were a kid!" and then *SNAP*. The dry, dead, branch couldn't handle my weight and snapped instantly where I then fell backwards from about 6 feet right onto my shoulder and upper back. I got up, caught my breath, and assured Avan that I was just winded and needed a second to get myself together. As I brushed myself off I felt something out of place. My fingers touched what would be the edge of my collarbone that was now almost protruding through my skin. I felt my blood rush and then I felt myself smile as I said "oh.. shit."
I told Avan not to panic and to continue shooting the wedding as I walked myself to the onsite clinic. I was redirected to the "International Clinic" where they did X-Rays and told me once I got back to Canada I would need surgery because I had severely broken my clavicle. They wrapped me up tight and I went back to the resort. As I arrived back two hours had gone by and it was time for first look photos. I grabbed my camera, took off my battery grip, put on my 50mm lens, and shot the rest of the wedding with one hand. I wasn't in any pain so this was surprisingly an easy-ish task. The wedding was beautiful and minus me having my little incident, everything went as planned.
The rest of the trip was a little difficult, but still so enjoyable and I'm so grateful that I was given this opportunity. I pushed myself to take more one-handed photos on some downtime, and we went to Havana where we were able to get some photos and enjoy the islands capitol for a little while. The collection below is all of my favourite images from our downtime during the trip, and our trip to Havana. You'll notice some dog photos in the mix and that's because Cuba has a LOT of stray dogs so pretty much anytime I saw one that would let me take its picture, I did. Dogs are my favourite and I absolutely broke my heart to see so many without homes but it is something so normal on this island! The white female is a little friend I made because she was a wanderer on the resort.
This was a long post and I want to apologize for that but if you stuck around and read this entire thing you rock and should leave a comment on this post so I know who you are!! I'm now recovering from my surgery and excited to get back to shooting. I hope you enjoy these fun images!! I put little blurbs on a couple of the images so if you want to learn something about an image, just click on it!