Although the chosen career path I took was Fashion Design, I grew up around photography. In fact, here I am (in the photos below) holding my Dad’s lens on a family vacation and another with my beloved mint green toy camera. I was as comfortable behind the lens as I was in front of it (always a ham!). At a young age, I started shooting film with my father’s SLR and I became hooked. I continually dabbled in photography as a hobby throughout my Fashion Career. I would say I’m a serious enthusiast.
My style of photography is sincere, mostly focusing on the human moment and about connection to those from all sorts of walks of life. My style is judgement free and empathetic. I don’t work on commercial style photography, and I have never shot a wedding (except my babysitter’s Sri Lankan wedding which was so beautiful with henna and amazing food my son and I enjoyed!). My work is purely documentary style and heart felt. I like to call it ‘Shot Through the Heart’, to quote Jon Bon Jovi.
A few years ago, The Rolling Stones announced they were playing a free concert in Cuba. How cool, I thought. President Obama was in Cuba the very same week and there was a real buzz about the fact the embargo possibly would be lifted, and relations would be normalized one day.
My friend, the producer Jack Martin, called me up and said ‘Hey Sara Lou (he loves to call me by several funny versions of my name) I’m thinking of heading to Cuba for this concert, I think you should come – it would be great to take photos!’ I said I would think about it. A trip to Cuba wasn’t really in my budget and it was literally a week or two before and I had no idea if I would find a place to stay.
Well, eventually I found a Casa Particular in Centro Habana, away from the tourist area of Old Havana. To be honest, that was PERFECT for me. I am not one that likes tourist locations. Jack and his friend ‘Special’ (aka Brian) stayed in town and I was tucked away in my cute little place (I was on the top floor with an amazing view!). I loved it as I could walk to Old Havana to meet my friends for dinner or lunch and encounter a lot of people and scenes along the way.
The Rolling Stones concert was amazing, we got there early (there was barely any security and it was a little dangerous at times) and although we all got separated, I managed to find a spot right at the end of the stage by Mick’s walkway. My friend Julie was watching Havana Moon (the movie made from the show in Cuba) and took a screen shot of me, yes I am in the movie! After I could not locate Jack and Special, and was stuck in the middle of Cuba (it wasn’t walking distance to the town) with no transport and not speaking Spanish. I was lucky to meet a Peruvian man who I shared a ride with and he walked me the rest of the way home. I had just been to Peru the year before so we had much to talk about.
So, adventures in Cuba came to an end, and I returned home and developed my film. I shoot medium format film, with 645 format & negative size. I usually use C41 but occasionally slide film too. Here are a few of my favorite images I took when in Cuba, and the rest can be viewed at my website at: www.saralouisepettycuba.com
Sara Louise Petty