… like smoking sugar

bazan“… my way of working is embedded in my life. When I go out to visit my friend on his farm I bring a bottle of rum. We sit, we talk about how is the tobacco growing, the sugar cane, the malanga. And when he asks me if he can  roll me a cigar I always say yes. Not because I smoke cigars, but because watching him roll is a thing of beauty, it is so wonderful, like smoking sugar, if you can imagine that.”

I got to know Ernesto Bazan as a photo editor at Natural History magazine. In the mid 1990’s when I worked there, Ernesto was just beginning to document Cuba. A land that would reward and punish him for 14 years.  He did several photo essays for Natural History, my favorites being the essays on Cuban Baseball (see one of my favorite photos below) and on tobacco farming in Cuba. Many of those wonderful pictures can be seen at his website and in his new book Bazan Cuba. 

The quote at the beginning of this entry was a response to a question regarding his working methods at a lecture he gave last night at The School of Visual Arts, and that, was his very poetic response.  You could see the emotion and feel the passion as he spoke. This is a man who is very passionate about what he does and about how he lives. 

Ernesto Bazan’s photographs of Cuba are beautifully poetic. To me they are a reflection of his soul. The Cuba he depicts is a very personal one. Ernesto lived in Cuba for 14 years, married and had children.  He walked the streets of Cuba endlessly, looking always looking. This is his Cuba; dark, desperate and intimate. As I have said before, artists really only have one tale to tell; the story of the self. Ernesto tells his tale wondrously, just like smoking sugar.


Photo by Ernesto Bazan

Photo by Ernesto Bazan


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