Behind the Shoot with Photographer Eric Kiel
Behind the Shoot with Photographer Eric KielJuly 19, 2012
Photographer Eric Kiel spent two weeks in Cuba on assignment last spring with G&G contributing writer Charles Gaines. Part one in Havana, and part two on the Zapata Peninsula. We caught up with Eric to learn a little more about his Cuban fishing adventure.
You traveled from Havana to the Zapata Peninsula in search of fish. Any luck those three days out on the water?
We were on day three of not catching a single bonefish in this amazing backdrop of the Zapata Peninsula flats. All I kept thinking was the photo director is going to shoot me if we don’t come home with at least one photo of a fish! My prayers to the fishing gods were answered with two hours left on our last day of fishing. Richard, our guide, pulled in three amazing fish.
You’ve been sent on many fishing photo assignments through the years. What’s the one thing you’ll always remember about this trip?
Before we went on the Zapata Peninsula fishing leg of our Cuba trip, I was given a brief synopsis of what to expect for the photo shoot. The famous line I would have “my own chase boat” still makes me laugh. My chase boat was not the latest outfitted flats boat with a reliable Evinrude on the back. No, it was a floating bathtub with an amazing guide who had a long wooden pole to get me around the flats all by hand. Eight hours a day hunting fish in our turquoise bathtub still makes me smile.
So your fish mission was accomplished. You were then able to lay back and enjoy your last night in Cuba?
As much as I wanted to relax and enjoy my last evening of rum, cigars, and great conversation, I had one piece of unfinished business in Cuba. I was determined to shoot a motion component for the feature. I had a cab from Havana drive two hours to pick me up and drive through the night back to Havana. I had an old ‘59 Chevy convertible pick me up at sunrise at my hotel. We drove through every nook and cranny of Havana for three hours until I had to be at the airport on a plane back to the States. It was well worth the effort.
What was your favorite meal in Cuba?
Black beans, rice, and some Cuban chicken with a cold Cristal Beer.
How did the guys and you spend your other evenings on the Zapata Peninsula?
After dinner each evening, we headed back to our little Russian-built cinder block beach bungalows which made you feel like you were stuck in Florida in the 1950s with the pastel painted blocks, palm trees blowing in the wind, and classic cars everywhere you turned. We spent hours sitting in rocking chairs outside our bungalows sharing stories with the fishing guides who knew very little English. After a little Cuban rum and a cigar, these guides transformed from their quiet selves on the water to big story tellers with some amazing adventures on the water! Just another great day in paradise, getting lost in time.
Your advice: Don’t leave Cuba without…
Getting out of Havana. If you want to really experience Cuba, get lost in a little village by the sea. The people are some of the happiest I’ve ever met. You really feel transported back in time. Life is simple down by the sea.
Click here to read more on the Cuba fishing adventure.
See more of Eric's photography
Fishing on Zapapta Pennisula