Rad A. Drew Photography: December 2019

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Top 10 Reasons to Photograph Cuba with Ramses Batista and Rad Drew

© Ramses H. Batista
If you're a photographer, chances are, photographing in Cuba is on your bucket list. But how do you decide who to travel with and what criteria do you consider in selecting the trip that is right for you?

I've been traveling to and photographing in Cuba since 2012. In the past few years I've teamed up with extraordinary Cuban photographer, Ramses Batista, to create unique photography experiences and ensure an intimate look at Cuban life.

© Rad A. Drew
Here are the Top 10 Reasons to choose us for your Cuba photography adventure!

1. Compliance and Safety

We are vigilant about watching current travel regulations. We comply with all current laws and meet all requirements for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba legally and safely.

© Rad A. Drew

2. Peace of Mind

Our team handles all the details and has an office in Havana in the event of emergency. Cuba is a second-world country, and although we've never encountered any serious issues, it's a comfort to know that we have the support of a local team should we need help.

3. Experience 

Rad has traveled to Cuba more than 15 times in the past seven years and Ramses is a native Cuban who has grown up in Havana. Together, they know where to go, and when, for great photo experiences. Both are skilled photographers and teachers who use traditional as well as mobile phone cameras and are there for you every day of the trip.

4. Small Groups

The most photographers we take on any trip is 8 and some groups are as small as 5. Small groups mean we are more nimble to explore and go where we want. Our subjects are less likely to be intimidated by our small group size. A small group also means more attention from instructors.

5. Photography Instruction and Support

We have two instructors on each trip — Cuban photographer, Ramses H. Batista, and U.S.-based photographer, Rad A. Drew. We have experience with traditional, infrared, flash, and mobile photography. We will support you when you need it, and stay out of your way when you don’t.

© Ramses H. Batista
6. Photo Opportunities 

Because our team consists of native Cubans, we have extraordinary access to people (dancers, boxers, farmers, fisherman, families, and every-day working Cubans). And we have knowledge of, and access to, extraordinary locations that make unique backdrops for our subjects, including areas of Old Havana, abandoned buildings, extraordinary architecture like the Alicia Alonzo Grand Theater, and classic hotels from the 50’s. Many of the locations we visit are not available to photographers on larger tours.

7. Vetted Accommodations 

Ramses, Rad, and our team on the ground in Havana select and vet the Casas we stay in throughout Cuba. Each is clean and comfortable with private bath and air conditioning.

© Rad A. Drew

8. Local transportation

We provide comfortable and reliable transportation most often with professional drivers. You will be picked up at the airport when you arrive and taken to catch your departing flight. All local transportation while in Cuba is provided.

9. Great Dining!

We’ve discovered the best places to eat in Havana. We arrange meals in local restaurants that feature Cuban cuisine and local character. We eat very well!

© Ramses H. Batista
10. Equipment and Studio Accessibility

We have lighting, flash, and a professional studio available for select sessions. We have everything you need including pocket flash, lights, and backdrops, so there's no need to carry this gear.

These are all great reasons to join us on one of our adventures in Cuba, but the most important reason of all is that WE HAVE FUN!!! Sharing the people, places, and culture of Cuba is a joy for us. We look forward to seeing you on a future trip and helping fill your camera card and mobile phone with extraordinary images that you'll cherish!

© Ramses H. Batista

Don't take my word for it! 

Here is what past participants are saying about our trips. 

Just having completed the 2019 Beauty and Grace workshop in Cuba, I can not say enough positives about the experience. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that I would have access to photograph 16 Cuban dancers. In my previous excursion to Cuba, I had neither the contacts nor the access. This workshop was superb! After day 1, I kept saying, "I could go home now. I am so happy with what I captured today." By the last day, I was giddy from the experience. As another group member so eloquently put it, "I can't put the experience into words just yet." I feel the same way. It proved way beyond any expectations. Job very well done, Ramses and Rad. – M.F


I know I speak for the group when I say THANK YOU for a world class workshop and the trip of a lifetime!! – A.W.


Thanks for a world class workshop! I mean that from the heart. The places we went, things we saw, the access we had, and more than anything, the people and the food......that was a really special week. – J.P.


Thank you, Ramses and Rad, for an awesome experience! Not only for the big camera support, the subjects, and locations, but also for the iPhone knowledge as well. I came away with a totally new attitude about using a mobile phone camera. – S.S.

© Rad A. Drew
Click the links below to learn more about several trips in the first quarter of 2020!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

It’s a Small, Sometimes Random, World!

Last June I traveled to the Calabria region of Italy — the toe of the boot — for the first time to scout for a photo tour that I’m leading there in the fall of 2020. A local friend showed me around and I made this photo of the Santa Maria dell’Isola Monastery, an icon of the small city of Tropea, Italy.

Santa Maria dell'isola Monastery, Tropea, Italy
(Stay with me... this is where this story takes a turn!)

Fast forward to last week when I was on another photo adventure in my home state of Indiana. My friend, fellow photographer, Sally Meyer Wolf, and I, were doing what we love: driving country roads in rural Indiana looking for photogenic barns, scenic landscapes, and old towns. 

We stopped at Dawn’s Diner in tiny Coatesville, Indiana, population 546. 

Dawn's Diner, Coatesville, Indiana

We learned from the owners that Dawn’s Diner is in what used to be a bank. 

“Check out the bathroom,” said our waitress. “It used to be the bank vault.”

Dutifully, I did check it out and sure enough, the thick vault was visible in the entryway. “Cool,” I thought. 

The walls on either side of the entry are part of the thick metal vault.
The bathroom itself was roomy, clean, homey, and nicely decorated with paintings of far away beaches and other pleasant scenes. 

I was washing my hands and admiring the art when it hit me.

There on the wall, the largest picture in the room, was a painting of the Santa Maria dell’Isola Monastery, of Tropea, Italy, very similar to the image I made a few months earlier in a place 5,141 miles away!

Painting on the Wall of Dawn's Diner in Coatesville, Indiana

I don’t know about you, but I find that extraordinary.

Happy Holidays everyone. May the season be filled with intrigue, and especially the joy of family and friends!