So it turns out that I went in the wrong direction with the whole tropos situation. I was observing more on authenticity of my subject than the story of the photos and what I was trying to convey through the pictures.
A cultural identity can often be found close to home. After careful consideration, I realized my girlfriend's family had a typical, standard home. They are descendants of Cubans, not actually born in Cuba, or raised there. There would be no distinction or difference in perceiving cultural diversity because I myself am Caucasian, and there house typically looks the same as mine.
The restaurant is ideal because it examines culture specifically and the traits that prominently separates Cuba from the world.
Cigars, dominoes, and coffee. These words seem so simple, but after seeing how important they are, I delved a little deeper. The Cuban lifestyle is all about taking time to enjoy leisurely pleasures. One thing I have noted is compared to most typical families, eating together at meals and visiting is a definite requirement because it's about the little things that keep us together.
Smoking, no matter how unhealthy it is, was still a time for people with the same similarities to unwind, indulge in a habit, and relax. Throw in coffee, and dominoes, and you have the perfect excuse to waste a free Saturday afternoon with family, friends, and neighbors.
I wanted to include in each frame the habits of Cuba. Yes, it is an island. It is tropical, and it has much to offer, but the appeal of relaxation and comfort still holds the attention of the locals.
Of all people, they are not to be excluded from the fun!
When it came to excluding certain things, I wanted to omit the tables, drink area, and the overall appearance of the store.
Anything that might have displayed a shift to American "modernism" is something I wanted to avoid. Yes, Jose and Suzie adopted certain traits in order to function in a business-like state, but the signs they've hung in their building, the wood-carved map of Cuba actually made in Cuba, the many different packages of cigars and the commodities of coffee and the flavors sought after.
The tropos of the shot helps tell my story that these are people who enjoy good food, getting together, and generally operate on tight-knit communities and hangouts. The pictures displaying the culture of the beach, the maracas hanging around the pictures, and the general feel of tropic paradise is what I wanted to capture.
And when it comes to food, I find it hard to name just one culture that throws parties and festivals specifically to bring together multitude of people. When considering different races, the fact that Cinco de Mayo is celebrated widely and Halloween, or the "Day of the Dawn", is quite popular is not a coincidence. Now, yes, there is a difference between Latin America and Central America... quite noticeably, the unique details of each separate country and custom.
But for Cuba, there is no confusing the wonderful atmosphere of pleasant comradery that I only dared to hope to capture.