Takehiko Nakafuji

Born in 1970 in Tokyo, Japan, Takehiko Nakafuji graduated from the Photography Department of Tokyo Visual Arts College and runs Gallery Niépce in Tokyo. He has published photo collections including STREET RAMBLER, and his works have been featured in exhibitions, internationally. Nakafuji received the 24th Tadahiko Hayashi Award among others.

After an interval of almost 15 years, I revisited Havana, the capital of Cuba. My goal was to capture Cuba at this moment in time, as the country has reached a major turning point with the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States and the death of ex-President Fidel Castro.

I could see at a glance that the times have changed. New shops and restaurants have sprung up along the city's boulevards, while brand new vehicles flash brightly among the old cars that trundle along the streets. But turn a corner into a narrow alley in the popular quarter called Centro Habana or stroll through the old town and you'll find yourself back in the Havana of old, a place that seems not to have changed at all.

Streets lined by tumble-down buildings that date back to the Spanish colonial days, a portrait of hero Che Guevara… the rhythms of salsa and rumba reverberate everywhere. But while the city may be changing, the people – the greatest feature and virtue of this country – have not changed at all.

Fascinated by the down-to-earth people and the history you can feel from the old buildings, I walked around the popular quarters of Havana with a set of the new M.Zuiko PRO F1.2 prime lenses and my trusty Olympus PEN-F, photographing captivating scenes using the Monochrome Profile Control feature.

The fast prime lenses more than lived up to my expectations, delivering crisp, sharp images even with the aperture stopped down. Best of all, the smooth feathered bokeh at the open F1.2 aperture looks truly amazing in portraits and nightscapes.

The photos I took on this trip are mainly portraits of residents taken in the living heart of Havana, accompanied by a few street shots. I really hope that these photos give you a sense of what it is like to wander the streets of Havana among the people living there.

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