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Cuba: Living Under the Shadow

Living Under The Shadow

Living Under The Shadow


For my entire life Cuba has been a forbidden land. I remember stories my father told me of his adventures to the island nation during the pre-Castro days. He spoke of night clubs, casinos, wild parties, and Cuban rum. I’d been taught about the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and America’s sanctions against Cuba (as a response to Castro’s perported assassination of Kennedy). I had met people who emigrated from Cuba who told stories of leaving everything behind as Castro came to power, but I knew nothing about Cuba as an island nation. After Fidel Castro died, Obama lifted travel restrictions for Americans desiring to travel to Cuba. When I decided to go to Cuba I was curious what it would be like to see a place locked in the 1950’s. All the photos I had seen of Cuba were full of 1950’s era American cars lining streets of dilapidated buildings. I really had no idea what I would see or how I would be influenced by what I saw. But I did feel compelled to go before Cuba changed too much.
The Child Who Could Be Someone

The Child Who Could Be Someone


My visit to Cuba was brief, just four days; mostly in old Havana. I certainly can not claim to know Cuba or even Havana, but Cuba has left its first impression on me and I think it reflects in my photos from the trip. Its taken me a while to discover the theme of my 2000+ images from my first visit to Cuba. I have looked them over many, many times trying to sort out the good from the bad. I was looking for something I could make beautiful. The first day, I spent an hour in one place taking a couple hundred shots of the same scene while the sun set. I knew I would get a great sunset but I had to work for it. I would need several exposures to blend the sky, skyline, and foreground into a colorful and emotional moment in time. After that first day, I spent most of my time in old Havana where there were plenty of dilapidated buildings to photograph but that seemed too cliche. The old buildings didn’t give me a feeling of nostalgia. I kept looking for something else.
Pescatoro (20x30)

Pescatoro (20×30)


Finally, I began to post process my images and that is when I saw the story that I had captured unbeknownst to my conscious efforts. I realize that I was greatly impacted by seeing an entire nation living in abject poverty as a result of a totalitarian regime. There were severe penalties for breaking the law. As a result, there was no evidence of violent crime or drug use. I discovered how scared people were of the government; and that is where my art found its story “living under the shadow”. As a photographer I work to find situations where the light can create a unique image. I found myself taking many high contrast photos. I found myself photographing people in the shadows. For me, the shadow represented the shadow of the totalitarian regime. I was able to capture people keeping a low profile while living a good but frugal life. They had nothing to hide. They would open their doors to the street so people could see in their homes. On occasion, people would see my camera and welcome me into their home to take photos. Many people were open to having their picture taken; few would resist or turn away. I was able to walk amongst the people with a rather invasive camera and nobody would even bat an eye. That allowed me to get close and personal. Even when they did not speak any English, I was able to make eye contact, smile and point to my camera. Their response was generally enthusiastic.
The Greeter

The Greeter


So I am still working on these images but now I know what my story is. It is about people living under the shadow. Hiding in plain site. Disappearing in the foreground.
Goliath (20x30)

Goliath (20×30)

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New Release: Tres Musicos (20×30)

Tres Músicos

Tres Músicos


Tres Musicos is a new release in the Cuba Collection. Tres Músicos (The Three Musicians) perform at sunset for visitors to Havana’s famous Malecon. Havana’s culture is rich in the arts. These performers project a joyful presence to their music which can also be read through their expressions. Tres Musicos is available in the Art Gallery.

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Sonesta Coconut Grove – Miami hosts Champagne Reception for Sam Dobrow Photography – Saturday!

Mark your calendars! Its the Coconut Grove Art Walk also known as FAMU this Saturday night in the Grove. Parking in the Sonesta garage is the most economical; less than street parking and much easier.

Sonesta Coconut Grove – Miami hosts Champagne Reception for Sam Dobrow Photography on Saturday, February 4, 2017 from 7 PM to 10 PM. Open to the public.

Sonesta Champagne Reception

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New Release: Pappo (20×30)

Cuban Tobacco Farmer

Pappo – Cuban Tobacco Farmer (20×30)


Pappo, a Cuban tobacco farmer near Pinar del Rio describes the various qualities of the tobacco as he rolls a cigar and shares a few with us. Pappo with his laugh and smile captures the warmth of the Cuban people.

Pappo is a 20×30 fine art print face mounted to acrylic and is available in the Art Gallery.

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First Sunset in Havana

First Sunset in Havana

This is my first impression of Havana, Cuba. After arriving and clearing immigration, I was met by a fellow photographer Edin Chavez and our guide. We checked in to our “casa” and then started out for the first photo shoot. We were excited because of the cloudy sky. Havana had been clear for days and this was going to be a spectacular sunset. We headed to Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro on the east side of the bay looking west to watch the sun set behind the Havana skyline. I set up my tripod and shot bracketed exposures for close to an hour. Once back in the digital darkroom I had the tedious task of selecting the various images that would be used to blend the skyline, night lights, clouds, red sunset, and the old fort together to create this image.

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Sonesta Coconut Grove – Miami hosts Champagne Reception for Sam Dobrow Photography

Sonesta Coconut Grove – Miami hosts Champagne Reception for Sam Dobrow Photography on Saturday, February 4, 2017 from 7 PM to 10 PM. Open to the public.

Sonesta Champagne Reception

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Miami Beach Art Deco Weekend: Congress

Miami Beach just celebrated another year of the preservation of the art deco district. Today’s thriving South Beach art deco distrct was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Since that time, the historic properties have undergone many renovations to update the dilapidated structures while retaining their original architectural characteristics and charm. This photo of the Congress hotel is a classic landmark on Ocean Drive in the center of the art deco district. Once a year, Ocean Drive is closed to traffic for the Art Deco Weekend street fair; its the best time to photograph these iconic buildings without the distractions of vehicular traffic.

If you like this art, check it out in the Art Gallery.

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New Release: Sleeper Cell (20×30)

Sleeper Cell (20x30)

Sleeper Cell (20×30)


Sleeper Cell takes us to an destination on Oceana Drive where “sleeper droids” are glued to their transponders while awaiting instruction from their extraterrestrial handlers. Sleeper Cell captures the energy of Miami’s South Beach Art Deco district with a dreamy surrealism feeling and beautiful warm color tones (green and gold). Sleeper Cell is the latest addition to the South Beach Surreality collection. It is finished as a 20×30 limited edition print on metallic paper, face mounted to optical grade acrylic. Sleeper Cell may be purchased in the Surreality Art Gallery

Factoid: The original photograph was a 20 second exposure intended to blur human movement and capture the setting in crisp detail. Several people were moving around and interacting giving the image life as intended; but something unusual also occurred. When I began processing the image, I realized three people in the setting had sat perfectly still for 20 seconds while staring into their cell phones. It struck me as how odd it was to be dining in this beautiful setting and being totally removed from their surroundings. These people are the sleepers. They are totally mesmerized by their electronic devices as the world passes by. They are the inspiration for the droids who are waiting for further instruction as the invasion begins.

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New Release: Moon Colony (30×50)

Moon Colony (30x50)
This new 30″ x 50″ addition to the South Beach Surreality collection offers us a look at the Colony Hotel on Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive. The image began with a photograph made during the night of Miami Beach’s Art Deco Weekend 2017 festival – a rare opportunity to photograph the art deco architecture without any cars on the street. The photo is a panoramic shot, seamed together from five shots then processed for artistic interpretation inspired by the works of Salvador Dali and Vincent van Gogh.

The limited edition artwork is printed on metallic paper and face mounted on optical grade acrylic and may be purchased in the online gallery.

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Sam Dobrow Now Represented by Saphira and Ventura Gallery NYC

The art of Sam Dobrow is now represented internationally by Saphira and Ventura Gallery under the the New York International Contemporary Art Society. Specific works will be curated by the gallery and presented at four one week long exhibits in their gallery at 4 West 43rd Street, in the heart of New York City just steps away from Times Square and Grand Central Station. Two international shows will be hosted by their partner galleries in cities including Paris, France and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Exhibition dates will be announced in the next few weeks.

About Saphira and Ventura Gallery

The Saphira & Ventura Gallery (S&V Gallery) and the New York International Contemporary Art Society (NYICAS) are non-profit entities established for the purpose of collecting, preserving and disseminating contemporary art. These efforts are employed via participation in internationally recognized exhibitions, fairs, and events; as part of a provocative effort to educate artists while showcasing contemporary artwork with a multicultural perspective.

S&V Gallery hosts gallery spaces around the globe and enjoys strong partnerships with gallerists in Sao Paulo, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Madrid, Marbella and London!

S&V Gallery showcases a rich, diverse body of works from a talented group of international artists. It exhibits, promotes, provides consultation, and connects artists with a burgeoning community of “marchands d’Art” and collectors.

About Sam Dobrow

Sam Dobrow is a Miami, Florida based contemporary artist who continues to test the boundaries of photography. All of Sam Dobrow’s artwork begins with the camera and evolves into images with intensely beautiful constructs amplified by his emotion and perceptions of the world and its inhabitants.

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  • WELCOME



    Welcome to samdobrow photography, the online gallery where you can experience and acquire fine art photography crafted by Sam Dobrow. Sit back in the comfort of your home or office, browse at your leisure without the pressure of a salesperson, and make your selections with confidence that you're getting a finely crafted work of art. This site is dedicated to my fine art photography. If you are looking for my commercial photography and design services, please visit:
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