A year ago, while working with photographer Jose Villa on a wedding exclusive for People magazine, I discovered a series of photographs he had taken while visiting Havana, Cuba. An acclaimed fine art wedding photographer — American Photo magazine named him one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the world — Jose’s work has been featured in magazines such as Martha Stewart Weddings and InStyle. But it was his photographs documenting the streets of Havana that stopped me in my tracks.
A longtime film photographer, Jose’s images have a timeless, vibrant quality that’s hard to come by. The set of photographs selected for this month’s Curated — Sweden With Love’s monthly art show — was shot using a Contax 645, a Hasselblad XPan (a gift from his husband, filmmaker Joel Serrato) and Fuji 400H film.
Through Jose’s images, we experience the beauty, warmth and light of a city full of contradictions. The mixture of Spanish colonial and French Belle Époque architecture in various stages of disarray create a beautiful, washed-out color palette. The abundance of American cars from the 1950s makes you feel as if time stands still. And even though the country’s social and economic situation is fragile, to say the least, you experience the indomitable spirit of its people through his photographs.
“Habana is very much like a rose,’ said Fico Fellove (played by Andy Garcia) in the 2005 movie The Lost City, ‘It has petals and it has thorns…so it depends on how you grab it. But in the end it always grabs you.”
I hope Jose’s photographs from Havana grab your heart as much they did mine.
All photographs by Jose Villa ©2013.