The draw that Cuba has for photographers is currently on display in the show Cuatro Caballeros at the Anderson Arts Center. Anderson Artists Guild member Craig Johnson is one of the four photographers whose pictures from Cuba make up the exhibit.
Johnson visited Cuba last May and posted many of his pictures on Facebook and on some photo platforms. Word got around, and he was eventually invited to be part of a show featuring photographs of Cuba taken by Anderson photographer Tom Gibson and two other photographers—Frank Mathias and Bill Rush—with whom he’d traveled to Cuba.
With six months to prepare, Johnson had to choose 25 shots from among the hundreds he’d taken. While the other men focused mostly on the old cars that roam Cuba’s streets, Johnson was more drawn to the country’s Colonial architecture. “It’s one of the oldest cities in the West, and the Spanish occupation led to a lot of Spanish-style architecture,” he said. “Much of it has disintegrated, but it still has a haunting beauty. I liked going out in the evening in the late blue photographer’s light and photographing those buildings, especially after a rainstorm.”
His favorite piece is Reflections of Havana Nights (pictured above). “There’s nothing in there to give away when it was taken,” he said. “No wires, no graphics, no signs, no period clothes—just three buildings in perfect condition in the Colonial style.”
Johnson used three cameras—a Canon 7D, a Canon T2i, and a Samsung Galaxy S6 phone—plus a 15-pound tripod. He uses no filters and no photo editing software. “I don’t even have Photoshop,” he said. “I want people to think, ‘He actually saw that.’”
Unlike the uniformity of the other photographers’ frames, Johnson framed all of his differently. “I made no attempt to make a museum-style show,” he said. “I have always done that.”
Cuatro Caballeros, which opened on Jan. 11, will be on display through Feb. 14 at the Anderson Arts Center.