I felt a very deep connection to this interview. I wanted to be in Puerto Rico. Sitting with Carlos Rubin in The Latin Roots comiendo lechcon y tostones while starting on my forth Medalla. Discussing what photography means to us — individually — and why it drives us.

And why? Because I am ½ Puerto Ricaño. Because my wife and I recently discussed moving there. Because Marc Anthony kills it when he sings Preciosa. And because I am a photographer who has a renewed love affair with la Isla Del Encanto.

The Interview

LBTL: You are a photographer, painter, illustrator, writer, super 8 filmmaker, Holga enthusiast, Polaroid fan and occasional piano player.

It’s clear that you are creative soul. But what is it that draws you to photography?

Carlos RubinCR: Both my parents died when I was very young (my mother at 13 and my father at 29). When my father passed away I had to take charge of certain things and one of them was to clean the house to sell it. During that process, I discovered three big boxes full of pictures all from our life in Cuba. Where I spent the first 5 years of my life.

The pictures told the story of a rich past. Of a family I never imagined I had. Of my dad singing and recording live with the “Havana Casino Orchestra.” Of my mother and father hanging out with Liberace at a private party in Havana. Of my father sitting with the Emperor of Japan during the movie premiere of “Sayonara.” And hundreds of family images sharing beautiful moments.

From that moment, I felt in love with photography. I started reading photo books and eventually began creating my own images.

LBTL: Your Portraits, Early Years and Children work is stunning. Can you walk me through your workflow of choosing your subjects or assignments?

Carlos RubinCR: My first big project was to document my daughter and my son’s life. They were there with me every moment, growing up, smiling, learning, discovering life one step at a time and it was just perfect. At that time I was shooting mostly in black and white with my Leica M6 and my big inspiration was the work of Henri Cartier Bresson.

Then I discovered color. And the work of William Eggleston, Stephen Shore and Joel Meyeyovitz. And my perception of photography changed completely. I fell in love with color.

LBTL: I am biased — being ½ Puerto Ricaño. But you live in one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. Tell me about “that one place” that reminds you why you’re a photographer?

CR: Aguirre (my little ghost town). Aguirre is a little town between Salinas and Guayama where a big “central azucarera” was operating once.

There are dozens of beautiful big houses that were built for the people that worked at “la central.” I heard that they were mostly from the States. This is a special place that looks enchanted. The light is superb and you’ll never see people. But when you do they are extremely nice. I don’t think they want to be “discovered.”

I think they love to live in the middle of these big and beautiful abandoned houses. This is a very special place for me.

LBTL: Can you tell me about your “Ah Ha!” moment? That instant you realized — that you have this deep passion for capturing images through the lens?

Carlos RubinCR: When I started making photographs. I made an image of a woman from Haiti that used to walk the streets of Old San Juan. She was a beautiful black woman with no home or place to go. But she had the elegance of a queen.

I remembered that I took her portrait and I was shock when I developed it. It’s incredible how photography can show the soul of a person if that person allows you to see it.

LBTL: You were born in Cuba. But live in Puerto Rico. Have you gone back to Cuba? Have you taken pictures? If yes — what was your most memorable moment? If not, and given the opportunity where would you go and why?

Carlos RubinCR: I have never been in Cuba again but I think of that every single day of my life.

I would love to go back and see where I was born. The house where I used to play with my older brother. And take my shoes off and feel the sand and the ocean. I know I will do it soon. I’m 55 years old and there’s certain things you have to put together in your life when you’re getting older.

I’ve been living here, in Puerto Rico, almost for 50 years. I feel I’m Puerto Rican but there’s Cuban blood in my body — allot of it and it’s just part of what I’m and how I feel.

Call To Action

What can I say? I appreciate my interview with Carlos. It was part cathartic with a slice of inspiration.

So what is the call to action? To connect with people. And with some people connect with them deeply. Because you never know what that person might inspire within you. As I right this conclusion Rubin has inspired within me to listen to Preciosa. I am going on 9 times in row.

And if I could I would grab my Nikon and hike through El Yunque from sunrise to sunset.

Talk about a muse ;-)