With Robin Yong in Cuba

Cuba is an interesting travel destination because it is one of the few Communist countries left. Everything seems to be stuck in the 1950s - the roads, the buildings, the shops. For many, Cuba is perceived as a place of nostalgia in the American imagination, and to any photographer, a country like no other - everywhere Robin Yong turned something caught his eyes. The colors, textures, details and of course the people make it a photographer's dream. “The friendly locals have some of the best facial features I have seen and there is never a dull moment in Havana.” Robin Yong’s teacher is legendary Hollywood photographer Greg Gorman, so he has experience in creating celebrity style portraitures.

Cuba (1) by Robin Yong

Cuba (1) by Robin Yong

“If you are a married man resident in Cuba, you cannot get a passport to go to the next town without your wife's permission in writing.” - Edward Burnett Tylor
Cuba (14) by Robin Yong

Cuba (14) by Robin Yong

“It's amazing how everything here seems like it's in abundance. In Cuba, there is a shortage of everything.” -  Jose Contreras
Cuba (10) by Robin Yong

Cuba (10) by Robin Yong

“In Cuba and specifically in Havana there's a sort of energy that turns every situation into something unexpected. - Fernando Perez

This is one of Robins Yong’s most famous images "A little bit of Bruce" in black & white. It has won numerous awards worldwide. It was the winner of The People's Choice Awards at the Travel Photographer of the Year 2019-2020 and more recently at the Mono Awards 2020.

Many people have asked me about the story behind the photo so here it is: I took my newfound friend Jose for a stroll in old Havana. He's a model wannabe and has gotten so big lately that he couldn't find a shirt that fits him. I knew that in old Havana, there would be friendly locals who'd come and chat us up, so plenty of photo opportunities. The two of us walking down old Havana would be an interesting sight to the locals. And because only Jose could speak the local language, they'd be more likely to approach him first. As for the old lady in the photo, no one knew who it she was. Yeah...so in fact, my friend got molested, and I got one of the best pictures of all time.

A little bit of Bruce by Robin Yong

After the incident: 
Jose: Robin, I heard that in Venice you are a master in setting up scenes for photo workshops..but the scene just now...wow, it was just wow...I never expected something like that...
Me: you mean the old lady?
Jose: Yes...how did you find her?
Me: Errr...I dun know her at all...I didn't plan anything today...
Jose: You mean you dun know her at all?
Me: No...you ever see me talking to her? You see me paying her any money? But if you like photos like this, it can be arranged you know, let's go find you more old ladies...
Jose: Shit you....(and starts chasing me down the narrow streets of Old Havana...)

The title "A little bit of Bruce", with the Bruce referring to Bruce Weber - a photographer whose works of those Abercrombie and Fitch models that I have always admired, of course, I can never be compared to Bruce Weber, so just a little bit of Bruce...

 


Click on an image for full-size mode

Let's turn back time... it's the year 1957 now. This is another specialized themed album, called Vintage Havana for another favorite location of Robin Yong. He tells, "I got all my dancer friends old and new together and did a few photo sessions. All photos are done using natural lighting only. This is currently my favorite series to date and yes, every picture looks like a movie still once again".

Vintage Havanna (8) by Robin Yong

Vintage Havana (8) by Robin Yong

“To discover a city is in itself a unique event, but when we have the privilege of sharing it with friends most dear to us, it becomes a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” - Reinaldo Arenas
Vintage Havanna (14) by Robin Yong

Vintage Havana (14) by Robin Yong

“Cuba has its own moral system and priorities. That's what keeps it going, the belief that the country can control its own destiny. “ - Assata Shakur
Vintage Havanna (19) by Robin Yong

Vintage Havana (19) by Robin Yong

The Vintage Havana Series 1957 is a dream come true for me. I have long wanted to photograph ballet dancers - there is just something so special about them. And I wanted to do it in a Communist country, or maybe an Eastern European Country to get that look I always had in my mind. So my prime choices were Russia, Cuba, China, or Romania....Of course, I had little idea where to connect with the ballet dancers anywhere. A friend from Russia found a ballerina for me in Moscow but our schedules didn't match cos he was overseas most times himself.

During my 2019 trip to Havana, I was lucky enough to meet Monica, a ballerina from the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. Monica had arranged to meet another photographer friend of mine to do some street photography so we met up and one thing led to another. She liked my photo ideas so we did a few portrait sessions with Monica and some of her other ballet dancer friends. Monica spoke wonderful English so communication is not a problem.

The ballet academy in Havana has high standards and churns out only 40 graduates a year. Students for the National Ballet School are handpicked by the Ballet itself and trained from childhood. Ballet dancers are considered celebrities in Cuba and much-respected occupation. Professional Ballet Dancers are paid USD 30 a month, a lowly salary by world standards but on par with the salary of doctors in Havana.

And when I knew I had access to certain beautiful locations, I invited Monica and friends to come to all my photo sessions. The results were breathtaking...the very Cuba/ Havana I wanted to see all this while. Vintage buildings with peeling walls combined with the vibrant youth of my beautiful friends. Just like a scene out of a movie, except that everything is real.

I suppose the first thing that wows the viewers is the color - this kind of colors - you only get them in Havana...so classic, so cool and so 1950s...then the mystique and the drama. All photos are done using just natural lighting alone.

Some of my ballet photos from the multi-award-winning photo series "1957" - a photo story about my young friends in Havana, their dreams and aspirations. My only regret this year is not having enough time to visit Havana and now that this pandemic has struck. I must return to Havana soon when everything is more settled, I have many more wild ideas for my ballet dancer friends.

 

 

Click on an image for full-size mode

One of my favorite places I've visited is Havana, Cuba. On my way home from Costa Rica, I did a week in Havana. The colors, the music, the beautiful men and the cars! I love vintage and antique cars and own a couple myself. - Megalyn Echikunwoke
Cuba (25) by Robin Yong

Cuba (25) by Robin Yong

Robin Yong is a multi-award-winning Travel and Commercial Photographer, trained by acclaimed American photographer Jim Zuckerman, the world-famous Venetian Masks Florine House and Danielle Massart, and legendary Hollywood photographer Greg Gorman. He enjoys traveling to exotic destinations to befriend and photograph the locals. He is best known for his fairy tale-esque worldview work on the Omo Valley tribes in Ethiopia, the Venetian Masked models in Venice, the Bokator boxers of Cambodia, and the Maikos of Kyoto. He calls these works his Travel Portraits, his Art of Travel Medicine. For most of his works, he does not use flash, reflectors, or artificial lighting, depending solely on natural lighting alone. The photos are often intense, dramatic, colorful, and extremely beautiful. For Robin, every photo must look like a movie poster...These highly conceptual and thought-provoking Travel Portraits especially are designed to arouse an audience both visually and emotionally.

 His orientation towards photography has always been passion before commercial considerations and so his photos have always been a little different from that of many other photographers. His private sessions and assistance in photo workshops are highly sought after, and previous participants included doctors, professors, and even US senators. Despite his fame today, he will still do time for photo collaborations with budding models and artists if the conditions are right.

Over the past few years, Robin has quickly become one of the most popular and influential photographers at the Venice Carnevale and within the past few months, Flowers of Ethiopia alone has gathered numerous awards, finalist status, and honorable mentions in many International photography competitions, including Alfred Fried Awards, Antu Sente Cup, Australia's Top Emerging Photographers, International Photography Awards, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA), Istanbul Photo Awards, Moscow International Foto Awards, One Eyeland Awards, The Prix de la Photographie Paris, Sienna International Photo Awards, Tokyo International Foto Awards, Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) Awards, Xposure Awards, etc. In just slightly more than 3 years, Robin's travel photos have gathered more than 850 awards worldwide, earning him Grandmaster status within the Australian Photographic Society...

​As of June 2018, Robin is now an Accredited Professional Photographer with the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography) and within a year, an Associate with the same organization. In April 2020, Robin Yong becomes an artist with COCA - Center of Contemporary Artists.

In addition, Robin is represented by Le Dame Art Gallery in London and Rome, Art Limited in France, BlueThumb Gallery, artFido in Australia. iCanvas and Saatchi Art in the USA. And alongside the best artists in the world, Robin's work is available on artsy.net.

EXHIBITIONS

2020

MONOCHROMERIFIC 1st edition

February 2020

More Art Please Gallery

Brasoc, Romania

2019

W A V Venice Audio-Visual show

1st to 9th February 2019

Palazzo Michiel

Venice, Italy

Travel Photographer of the Year Exhibition

29th March to 30th April 2019

London Bridge City

​London,SE1 2DB

United Kingdom

Ethiopian Flowers & other Harmonies

7th March to 22nd June 2019​

Le Dame Art Gallery

1 Albany Street, Regent's Park

London NW13UP

United Kingdom

2018

Montana Pico Festival

The World in the Mountains Exhibition

7th January to 7th April 2018, 

MiratecArts Foto Galeria

1-2, n29, Mirateca, Azores 9950-153, Portugal

Hollywood Art and Movie Awards

26th January 2018, Alliance Francaise de Pasadena, Pasadena, CA, United States of America

Portraits: Hellerau Photography Award

8th February to 2nd April 2018

Festspielhaus Hellerau

Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 56, 01109 Dresden, Germany

29th Sutherland Shire National Exhibition of Photography 2017

9th February 2018, The Entrance Camera Club, CWA Hall, 1 Pacific St, Long Jetty, NSW, Australia

Talent Factory Annual Event,

2nd May 2018, Two Roads Theatre, Studio City, CA, United States of America

Chinese Opera Showcase:

One Step Closer to Wayang

11th May to 13th May 2018,

Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, Singapore

12 Tai Gin Road, S327874, Singapore

London Photo Festival

17th to 19th May 2018

The Crypt, Borough High Street, SE1 1JA London, United Kingdom

Noto Fior di Foto

18th May to 20th May 2018,

Teatro Comunale Vittorio Emanuele
Piazza XVI Maggio, 1
96017 Noto
SR, Italy

Chania Photo Festival

28th August to 5th September 2018

Grand Arsenali

Chania, Greece

3rd Perth National Photographic Exhibition

22 September to 29 September 2o18

Perth Royal Show

Clarement Showground,

Photography Pavilion,

1 Graylands Road, Claremont,

WA 6010, Australia 

Flowing City – La Città mai ferma,

Trieste Photo Days,

18th October to 9th December 2018

Trieste Airport, Via Aquileia 46, Ronchi dei Legionari (GO) - Italy

Gurushots Exhibition

9th November to 11th November 2018

The Canvas Gallery

158 Mount Pleasant Road, S298349

Singapore

2017

Istanbul Photo Awards 2017 First Exhibition

2nd April to 16th April, Tophane-i Amire Art Museum, Istanbul, Turkey

Travel Photographer Society Exhibition

27th April to 7th May, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Istanbul Photo Awards 2017 Sergi Exhibition

4th May to 30th May, Cer Modern Arts Center, Ankara, Turkey.

4th International Photo Salon Plodiv

30th June to 14th July, Gallery of the Association Society of Plodiv Artists, 32 Gladston Street, Plodiv, Bulgaria. 

Blank Wall Gallery, Portraits in B&W,

23rd June to 6th July, 55 Fokionos Negri Street 11361, Athens Greece

16th Donggang International Photo Festival (동강국제사진제)

14th July to 1st October 2017, Donggang Museum of Photography and nearby outdoor exhibition hall, Yeongwol Station, Cultural Art Hall, Large Hall of Yeongwol-gun County Office, Women’s Hall, areas of Yeongwol. 1909-10, Yeongwol-ro, Yeongwol-gun, Gangwon-do, Seoul, South Korea.

Istanbul Photo Awards 2017 Exhibition

7th September to 7th October, FolkArt Gallery, Adalet Mahallesi, Manas Blv. 37-2, 35530 Bayraklı/İzmir, Turkey.

 

"Out There 2017"

Canberra Photographic Society’s Annual Exhibition, 14th September - 24th September, Watson Arts Centre,  1 Aspinall St, Watson ACT 2602, Australia

Blank Wall Gallery, Travel

22nd September to 5th October, 55 Fokionos Negri Street 11361, Athens Greece

Blank Wall Gallery, Black & White

6th October to 19th October, 55 Fokionos Negri Street 11361, Athens Greece

Istanbul Photo Awards 2017 Exhibition

10th October to 10th November, Sakarya, Turkey.

29th Sutherland Shire National Exhibition of Photography 2017

12th October 2017, St George Photographic Society, St George Leagues Club, 124 Princes Highway, Kogarah, NSW, Australia.

29th Sutherland Shire National Exhibition of Photography 2017

17th October 2017, Cronulla Sharks Photography Club, Cronulla Sharks Leagues Club, 461 Captain Cook Drive, Cronulla, NSW, Australia.

Blank Wall Gallery, Landscapes

20th October to 2nd November, 55 Fokionos Negri Street 11361, Athens Greece

Istanbul Photo Awards 2017 Exhibition

16th October to 27th October, Birlesmis Milletler / United Nations Headquarters, New York 405 East 42nd Street, New York City, NY 10017 USA.

Photo House "On a Journey" Collective Exhibition

2nd November to 2nd December 2017, Le Dame Art Gallery at Melia White House, 1 Albany Street, Regent's Park, London NW13UP, United Kingdom.

Istanbul Photo Awards 2017 Exhibition

9th November to 19th November 2017, Red October Gallery,  Bersenevskiy per., 2с1, Moskva, Московская область, 119072 Moscow, Russia.

The Stockholm Diary - "The Essence of Monochrome" 

24th November 2017 to 6th January 2018, Haller utca 27.Budapest 1096, Hungary

Vinci Photo Festival 2017. Il viaggio nell'immaginario.

2nd December 2017 to 12th February 2018

Museo Leonardiano

Piazza dei Guidi, 50059 Vinci, Italy

 

2015

Country Holidays 20th Anniversary event, "Stories of the Mekong" Photo exhibition, 14th January 2015, Lapis Thai, Shanghai, China.

PUBLICATIONS

 

2014

Beginning in Venice

 

2015

Cambodia

Fairy Tales in Venice

The Secret Garden

2016

Flowers of Ethiopia

Fairy Tales in Annevoie

Fairy Tales in Venice, part II

2017

PDN 2016 Exposure Photography Award Book for Documentary, Travel & Wildlife.

Istanbul Photo Awards 2017 Photobook

African Geographic Yearbook 2017

Best of Photography 2017

Chromatic Photo Book 2017

2018

Trierenberg Super Circuit 2018 Master's Selection 

AWARDS 
(more then 850, shown here the years 2021 and 2020)

2021:

Gold, Tokyo International Foto Awards 2020, Nature, Professional Category

APAS Gold Medal, Evergreen International Photography Circuit 2020, Sandven Image House Salon, Open Color Category

APAS Gold Medal, Temasek Photo Circuit 2021, Sandven Image House Salon, Open Color Category

Campina Exhibitions Gold Medal, 5th Onyx 2021 International Exhibition of Photography, People Category

ICPE Gold Medal, Evergreen International Photography Circuit 2020, PhotoVivo Salon, Open Color Category

3rd Prize, Global Photo Awards 2021, Nature Category

AAP Bronze Medal, Giraffe Cup 2020, Nature Category

Honorable mention, Giraffe Cup 2020, Monochrome Category

Honorable Mention, Tokyo International Foto Awards 2020, Advertising/ Fashion, Professional Category

APAS Honorable Mention, Evergreen International Photography Circuit 2020, Sandven Image House Salon, Open Color Category

ICPE Honorable Mention, Temasek Photo Circuit 2021, DigiRap Salon, Open Color Category

AAP Diploma, Giraffe Cup 2020, Travel Category

Salon Diploma, Exhibition Tikal , Nature Category

Circuit Merit Award,  Evergreen International Photography Circuit 2020, Knowledge Bowl Salon, Open Color Category  

Circuit Merit Award, Temasek Photo Circuit 2021,DigiRap Salon, Travel Category

Circuit Merit Award, Temasek Photo Circuit 2021, Sandven Image House Salon, Open Color Category

Finalist. Global Health 50/50, This is Gender 2021

Nominee, Fine Art Photography Awards 2021, Nudes Category

Nominee, Fine Art Photography Awards 2021, Animals/ Wildlife Category

2020:

APAS Gold Medal, Singapore Photo Circuit 2020, PhotoVivo Salon, Open Monochrome Category

APU Gold Medal, DigiRap International Photography Circuit 2020, DigiRap Salon, Open Color Category

APU Gold Medal, Sandven International Photography Circuit 2020, Sandven Image House Salon, Open Color Category

APU Gold Medal, Singapore Photo Circuit, Knowledge Bowl Salon, Open Color Category

APU Gold Medal, Temasek Photo Circuit 2020, Knowledge Bowl Salon, Open Color Category

APU Gold Medal, Temasek Photo Circuit 2020, SAndven Image House Salon, Open Color Category

ICPE Gold Medal,  Sandven International Photography Circuit 2020, PhotoVivo Salon, Open Monochrome Category

Gold Medal, Moscow International Foto Awards 2020, Nature/ Pets, Professional Category

PhotoVivo Gold Medal, DigiRap International Photography Circuit 2020, Sandven Image House Salon, Open Monochrome Category

PhotoVivo Gold Medal, Golden Tiger Photo Circuit, Sandven Image House Salon, Open Color Category

PhotoVivo Gold Medal, Sandven International Photography Circuit 2020, Sandven Image House Salon, Open Monochrome Category

Salon Gold Medal, Estonia Photo Salon 2020, Open Color Category

1st Place, Umbra International Photography Awards 2019/ 2020, Portfolio - People, Professional Category

1st Place, Umbra International Photography Awards 2019/ 2020, Black, Professional Category

2nd Place, Malta International Photo Awards 2019/2020, Story Telling Category

2nd Place, Vienna International Photo Award 2020, Savoir Vivre "The Art of Living" Section

Campina Exhibitions Silver Medal, 5th Campina Salon 2020, Open Color Category

Silver Award/ Subcategeory Winner- Nature/ Pets, Budapest International Foto Awards 2020

Silver Award, Cosmos Awards 2020, Fine Art Nude Category x 3

Silver Award, Cosmos Awards 2020, Portrait, Individual Category x 3

Silver Award, Rise Photo Awards 2020, Family Category

Silver Award, Rise Photo Awards 2020, Travel Category

3rd Place, Chromatic Photo Awards 2020, Culture, Professional Category

Club Bronze, Laljal Circuit, Laljal Salon, Nature Category

Bronze Award, Rise Photo Awards 2020, Pets and Animals Category

APS Merit Award, APS Australian Digital Photography Awards 2020, Creative Category

Circuit Merit Award, DigiRap International Photography Circuit 2020, DigiRap Salon, Open Color Category

Circuit Merit Award, DigiRap International Photography Circuit 2020, DigiRap Salon, Open Monochrome Category

E-Merit, Laljal Circuit, Kurumbera Salon, Open Color Category

Circuit Merit Award, Sandven International Photography Circuit 2020, Sandven image House Salon, Open Color Category

Circuit Merit Award, Singapore Photo Circuit 2020, Sandven Image House Salon, Open Monochrome Category

Highly Commended, Australasia's TOP Emerging Photographer 2020, Portrait Category

Highly Commended, Australasia's TOP Emerging Photographer 2020, Single Shot Category

APAM Honorable Mention, 1st APAM International Salon, Open Color Category

APU Honorable Mention, DigiRap International Photography Circuit 2020, Sandven House Image Salon, Travel  Category

APU Honorable Mention, Sandven International Photography Circuit 2020, PhotoVivo Salon, Open Color Category

Honorable Mention , Annual Photography Awards (APA) 2019, Portrait Category x 5

Honorable Mention, Chromatic Photo Awards 2020, Fine Art, Professional Category

Honorable Mention, Dhaka International Photo Awards 2020, Nature Category

Honorable Mention, Dhaka International Photo Awards 2020, Open Color Category

Honorable Mention, Dhaka International Photo Awards 2020, Travel Category

Honorable Mention, International Photo Awards 2020, People-Traditions/ Culture - Professional Category

Honorable Mention, Monovisions Photography Awards 2020, Single, Nude Category

Honorable Mention, Monovisions Photography Awards 2020, Single, Portrait Category

Honorable Mention, Monovisions Photography Awards 2020, Single, Travel Category

Honorable Mention, Moscow International Foto Awards 2020, Advertising/ Fashion, Professional Category

Honorable Mention, Moscow International Foto Awards 2020, People/ Culture, Professional Category

Honorable Mention, ND Awards 2020, Nude Category

Honorable Mention, PhotoArtMedica, Free Themer Category x2

Honorable Mention, PhotoArtMedica, The World of Water Category x2

Honorable Mention, PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris, Professional, Advertising/ Fashion

Honorable Mention, Rise of the Earth Photo Contest 2020, Portrait and Body Category x2

Honorable Mention, Vienna International Photo Award 2020, Savoir Vivre "The Art of Living" Section x2

Honorable Mention, Vienna International Photo Award 2020, Black and White  Section

ICPE Honorable Mention, Singapore Photo Circuit 2020, DigiRap Salon, Open Color Category

PhotoVivo Honorable Mention, DigiRap International Photography Circuit 2020, Sandven Image House Salon, Open Color Category

PhotoVivo Honorable Mention, Singapore Photo Circuit 2020, Sandven Image House Salon, Open Color Category 

PhotoVivo Honorable Mention, Temasek Photo Circuit 2020, DigiRap Salon, open Color Category

Jury's Choice, Laljal Circuit, Krumbera Salon, Nature Category

Salon Ribbon, Georgia Photo Salon 2020, People Category

Salon Ribbon, Palanga Photo Salon 2020, Nature Category

Special Mention, Travel Photographer of the Year 2019, People and Culture Category

Winner, Travel Photographer of the Year 2019, People's Choice Award

Winner, Travel Photographer of the Year 2019, Street Life, Single Image Category

Creative Winner, Xpozer Photo Contest, People and Places

Winner, Best Photography, Aphrodite Film Awards, 2019 September- October

Winner, Best Photography, LA Cinefest 2020

Winner, Gold Award, Cosmos Awards 2020, Portrait Group/ Family Category

Winner Still Awards 2020, Portrait Category

Winner, The People's Choice  - The Mono Awards 2020 - PEOPLE Category

Winner, 4 Nations Inter-Country Competition, 2020

Official Selection, Ambitus Film Festival

Official Selection, Laurus Film Festival

Official Selection, Visualis Film Festival

《京 カフェコムサ賞》第7回東山フォトコンテストにご応募いただき,"Kyoto Cafe Komsa Award", 7th Higashiyama Photo Contest 

Finalist, Australian Photography Awards 2020, Wildlife Category

Finalist, Center of Contemporary Artists COCA Project 2020

Finalist, One Eyeland World's Top 10 Fashion Photographers 2019 x 6

Finalist, Rise Photo Awards 2020, Family Category

Finalist, Rise Photo Awards 2020. Travel Category

Finalist, Silver Lining Awards , Portrait Category

Finalist, 8th Zebra Awards 2020, Nudes

Finalist, 8th Zebra Awards 2020, Portrait and Editorial x 3

Nominee, Fine Art Photography Awards 2020, People Category (Series)

Nominee, Fine Art Photography Awards 2020, Nudes Category (Series)

Nominee, Fine Art Photography Awards 2020, Nudes Category (Single) x 2

Nominee, Fine Art Photography Awards 2020, Portrait Category(Single)

Shortlist, Vienna International Photo Award 2020, Savoir Vivre "The Art of Living" Section​

Top 20, Australasia's TOP Emerging Photographer 2020, Animals Category

Top 20, Australasia's TOP Emerging Photographer 2020, Travel Category

Top 30, Australasia's TOP Emerging Photographer 2020, Portrait Category

Top 20, The Mono Awards 2020, People Category


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