Photographer, author and Cuba expert Steve Anchell shares his three tips for taking your best photos in Cuba or any destination.
steve anchell
Photo: Steve Anchell

Photography today is more than just imagery. It’s how we communicate and express ourselves in an increasingly visual online world. Anyone who is paying attention can tell you that strong images get strong responses. As I think about the future, I know that I want to make sure my kids can communicate visually. I want them to have photography in their tool bag. To me, it’s as important as ensuring that they speak Spanish in an increasingly bilingual society.

And this is how we wound up here today. I recently co-hosted an online photography event with Greg Kahn and the extremely talented Karen Vierbuchen. It was led by Steve Anchell, an award-winning photographer, instructor, author (I bought your book, Steve) and Cuba expert. We asked Steve for three quick tips to improve your smartphone photos in Cuba. Clearly these tips apply to any camera, not just smartphones, and to any destination (or none at the moment, thanks to COVID-19). For us, though, sharing the common thread of Cuba and knowing that we all have smartphones in our pockets, this is the natural place to start.

Steve Anchell’s 3 tips for better photos in Cuba.
steve anchell
Steve Anchell. Photographer, author and Cuba expert.

Steve Anchell’s 3 Tips for Better Smartphone Photography

Tip #1 – Change Your Point of View

Steve’s first tip —and the one that has had the most impact on me, personally— is to change your point of view. He emphasizes “looking” when you’re taking photos. Not just “seeing.”  Look for angles and positions that take the moment that everyone else is experiencing and change your perspective to make them different in your photo. The best way to do that?  Get low. Or… get high. (You know what I mean. You do, right?)

Related Post: Free Class Replay: Steve Anchell’s Top 3 Tips To Take Better Cuba Photos

steve anchell
The Glance, © 2020 Steve Anchell

Clearly these tips apply to any camera, not just smartphones, and to any destination (or none at the moment, thanks to COVID-19).

Tip #2 – Get (Even) Closer

There’s so much in front of you if you just focus on the details. One scene could have dozens of photo opportunities if you zoom in. Shapes and perspectives look different when you’re up close and not only change your POV but create visually stunning images. For instance, although I don’t find noses attractive in the least, this image is pretty cool and could’ve been made anywhere.

mel cohen photography
Smoke #16,© 2020 Mel Cohen

Tip #3 – Focus on the Eyes

As humans, we crave connection with each other.  Therefore it goes without saying that a photo that can connect a person to its human subject will be more successful than one that doesn’t. The best way to do this? Ensure that the eyes of at least one person in the photo are perfectly in focus. This doesn’t mean you always need to photograph people. If you do though, ensuring that you focus on the eyes will guarantee success of your photo on some level.

ilya kovarik photography
Two Boys, © 2020 Illya Kovarik

If you’d like to see any of the books that Steve has authored on photography, we’ve linked to them here.

Get the Free Replay of Steve’s Complete Video Lesson

The video above is a three-minute edited version. If you’d like to glean some serious knowledge from Steve’s full, unedited class replay, including lighting, composition and the best apps to use for editing on your phone, please tell us where to send it. It’s free.

steve anchell photography
Photo: Steve Anchell

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Ken Deckinger is the co-founder and CEO of Startup Cuba and the executive producer and host of its namesake docuseries. A native of South Florida, Ken has been an entrepreneur for his entire professional career. Previously he was co-founder and CEO of HurryDate, pioneering the global concept of speed dating to 45 cities throughout the US, UK and Canada. HurryDate eventually evolved into online dating and was acquired by Spark Networks, the parent company of and Ken is a graduate of Boston College and the University of Florida, where he was honored with the University’s Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Under 40 award and sits on the Board for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He actively advises entrepreneurs and is a two-time protagonist of a Harvard Business School case study. Ken’s filmmaking and journalistic journey is inspired by a love of travel and authentic connections with other cultures. He believes that the more we know about each other, through stories, the closer we can become — thus the mission of Startup Cuba: to amplify the voices of the people sharing stories in the Latinx space. After living in New York City for 15 years, he encouraged his wife to move their family to Miami to get back to his South Florida roots. Needless to say, it was a short discussion and he and his family now call Boston, where his wife grew up, their home.

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