Cuba has a special place in the heart of London-based fine art photographer, and Blurb author, Allan Jenkins. This passion is vividly explored in his book ‘The Unseen Cuba’. The book’s evocative images span a 16-year period and feature some of Jenkins’s finest work. Blurb recently talked with Allan about his book and his photography.
Blurb: So where does your passion for Cuba come from? What started it all?
Allan: I was brought up in Barcelona, where some of my family still live, so Spanish is my first language. But my first trip to Cuba was actually triggered by my Welsh stepfather. He asked me to join a miners’ union delegation to the country in 1994 and act as a translator for a solidarity campaign between Cuba and the UK mining community.
I translated for the UK miners and politicians as they created a bond between the two communities. I also spent time at the mines and got involved in taking photos of the event. The photography was incredibly real and insightful and made me feel very much alive. It helped me see life from a different perspective.
Blurb: There must be so many memories and stories behind the photos. Do any stand out?
Allan: The mining community photos are special for me because my stepfather was a miner and it’s a dying industry. Also a lot of my family are from the valleys in Wales, so there is an obvious link.
These images not only stand the test of time, they represent the strength and camaraderie of hardworking men, where honour, pride, and trust is essential. Those memories are the strongest for me and it’s the starting point to my collection, book, and series.
Blurb: Your photography documents the country over a 16-year period. Have you noticed much change during this time?
Allan: The country has changed vastly. The most obvious thing is how tourism has become the main income for the local people. The local people are also slowly beginning to travel more, marry outside of Cuba, and adapt to other cultures.
Blurb: What did it feel like when you first unwrapped the finished copy?
Allan: I was delighted to see the hard cover and start browsing through the pages. It’s a carefully produced book and very well printed – the ProLine paper is great.
Blurb: Are you planning any updates to your book?
Allan: I would like to add another chapter or two. My main ideas on that are The Cuban National Ballet and the Cohiba cigar factory.
Blurb: Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
Allan: I’m currently working on another book project around ‘Romantics’, inspired by period paintings and art. The photographs are simulated set ups to create vintage beauty with a contemporary twist.
Blurb: What tips would you give to someone creating their own Blurb book?
Allan: Don’t just conform to the standard layouts or text, dig deeper and be creative. It’s a great opportunity to get your thoughts and ideas out there in book form and it’s the best way to challenge yourself to understand layout.
For more information about Allan and his work, visit www.allanjenkins.com