Alberto Korda

Guerrillero HeroicoBorn Alberto Diaz Gutierrez in Havana in 1928, he adopted the name Korda after the Hungarian filmmakers Zoltan and Alexander Korda. In 1954 he set up a studio in the Cuban capital and worked as a fashion and advertising photographer until the revolution. For the next twelve years, Korda stood with his camera at the very center of Cuba’s political crossroads.

Throughout the 20th century a handful of photographs have transcended the circumstances of their making to become emblematic of an era, of a generation, and of an epic event. Such is the case of Korda’s photograph of Che Guevara staring defiantly from under his black beret at a 1960 funeral in Havana, which Korda named ‘The Heroic Guerrilla’.

The image became the embodiment of Cuba’s revolutionary process and one of the most widespread photographs of the 20th century. Korda himself received little recognition at the time, and no royalties whatsoever. Five decades later, though, his place in the pantheon of great photographers is indisputable.

Korda continued to serve as Fidel Castro’s photographer until 1968, although their personal friendship survived until his death. His work is characterized by the use of natural light and stands out by its sheer artistic power and versatility. Alberto Korda died in Paris in 2001. His lasting influence on Cuban photography continues through this day.

Liborio Noval

El GiganteLiborio Noval Barbera was born in Havana on January 29, 1934. His long and distinguished career started off as a market researcher for the Siboney Advertising Agency in Havana in 1952, before moving to the photography department where he worked until the late 1950’s.

In 1959, Noval became a photojournalist for the newspaper Revolución and INRA magazine, and continued working there until 2003. He has covered virtually every major event in Cuba and received thirty-two national as well as three international awards. The illustrious Olorun Cubano, a special award recognizing his lifelong contribution to photography, was presented to Noval in 2000 by the Cuban Foundation for the Photographic Image.

Liborio Noval has traveled extensively around the world and is a founding member of the Cuban Journalists Union and the Cuban Union of Writers and Artists. As the longest serving photographer to Castro, he has had the rare opportunity to capture the island’s unfolding story over half a century. Noval also served as a war correspondent in Vietnam and Nicaragua. His photographs have appeared in national and international magazines, as well as in numerous books on Cuba.

Osvaldo Salas

Abuelo y Nieta, 1965Osvaldo Salas, widely recognized as one of the world’s great press photographers, was born in Havana, Cuba in 1914. At the age of fourteen, he left Havana with his parents and immigrated to New York. After several odd jobs at Madison Square Garden, Salas began taking pictures for an international boxing association that had the major champions of the time under contract.

By the end of the war, Salas had fallen in love with photography and he won his first award in 1947. As a publicity photographer, his work was published in Life magazine as well as The New York Times. When Fidel Castro visited the United States in 1955 to raise funds for the revolution, Salas was assigned to photograph him in New York City.

After several visits to Salas’ studio, Castro invited him and his son Roberto to Havana. Salas and his son became Fidel’s semi-official photographers and worked for the government newspaper Revolución. For several years, Salas traveled between his studio in New York and the harsh reality of the Cuban revolutionaries in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra. A strong supporter of the Revolution, Osvaldo finally returned to Cuba two days after the victory in 1959, and lived there for the remainder of his life.

His stylistic images expertly communicate Cuba’s evolving cultural, social and political realities. Among his many awards and honors, he was acclaimed an International Master of Photography by the International Press Association in 1983.

Roberto Salas

Santeria, 1963Osvaldo’s son Roberto Salas was born in New York City in 1940. His photographic journey began in his father’s studio where he would lend a helping hand after school. At the age of 15, Roberto left school and followed in his father’s footsteps to become one of Cuba’s most successful photographers.

Roberto Salas has documented the revolution from the Sierra Maestra to the Bay of Pigs, as well as the only known meeting between Castro and Ernest Hemingway. He served as a U.N. correspondent and war correspondent in South East Asia, including Cambodia and Vietnam, spending a year behind the Vietcong lines.

His artistry and great ability to capture the common people led to over 40 solo exhibitions worldwide and garnered more than 100 prizes and honorable mentions. In a joint retrospective with his father, two books of their beautifully crafted photographs were published: Ernesto Che Guevara, printed in 1997, and Fidel’s Cuba: A Revolution in Pictures, printed in 1998.