For a new generation of Cuban-American teen girls in South Florida, the stately Vizcaya Museum & Gardens is no longer the backdrop of choice for their quinceañera photos. This year, bolstered by the renewed relations between Cuba and the United States, photo studios and event planning companies in Havana are getting a boost from U.S. Latinas.
For some girls, going to Cuba to take their quinceañera photos and parties is a way to reconnect with their roots; for others, it just makes sense financially. Photo packages start at $50 in many studios in Cuba, compared to the about $1,000 prices in the U.S., according to The Associated Press.
Recently, 14-year-old Camila Lopez Rivas took her photos inside a beachside home in Havana. She was born in Cuba, but she was too young to remember it. Camila learned about Marbella Studio from a friend in Florida, who used the Guanabo-based company for her quince pictures.
Camila had an eight-hour photo session in Cuba, and she will return in February for her party, which will be held at Melia Cohiba Hotel.
Marbella employs 12 photographers, and offers the girls more than 500 outfit choices. About 60 percent of Sarah Medina Vigor’s clientele comes from other countries. At Aladino photo studio, owner Alberto Gonzalez said he saw a rise in foreigners visiting Cuba to take their photos.
“Recent Cuban immigrants tend to support more engagement of all kinds with Cuba, including restoring diplomatic ties, lifting the embargo, allowing travel by all U.S. citizens, and investing in the fledgling private sector of the island’s economy,” Jorge Duany, director of Florida International University’s Cuba Research Institute, told the AP.
But the AP adds that Cuban families also have more money to spend on these celebrations because of economic reforms, so business has been good from all sides for those in the quinceañera business.