Ten Years at the Tribune

CubaElderlyHug©2009 Chicago Tribune/Alex Garcia

As this month closes, it will be a full decade that I’ve been a photographer with the Chicago Tribune. Many times I am asked what was my favorite assignment or picture has been.  Without hesitation, I can say being assigned to our Cuba bureau for a couple months was a personal and professional milestone for which I will be always grateful. It was a life dream to be able to work as a journalist in my father’s homeland, so when the Tribune became the first North American newspaper to receive permission to open a permanent bureau on the island, I was all over it. I was soon all over Havana, carrying digital and film equipment up and down every street, working every angle to get past the stereotypical images of cigars and old cars. When the Tribune delegation was met by President Fidel Castro, I met him first to be in place when the rest of the delegation came through. I still remember hearing the heels of my escort clicking on the polished floor of the palace as we turned a corner and our eyes met before meeting him.

I choose this picture to represent the assignment because of the love that sustains this family and many others. I met this mother and son just by accident on my sojourns into the city, looking for pictures. Their story is complicated. It involves previous wealth lost, mental illness, alcoholism. When I met them, they were in survival mode, living in a cramped cement cubicle. Obviously not all live this way, but most would agree on the power of family bonds in helping to cope with the economic hardship faced by the island and its people.

In my case, it was the power of family bonds that led me to their bedside. My imaginations of family in Cuba missing at holiday gatherings laid hold on me at an early age, propelling an intense curiosity about the country that led me to this assignment and to pour my heart into all the pictures that flowed out of it.  You can see other pictures from my assignment in Cuba at the World Press Photo archive.

Alex Garcia


  1. Have you ever considered adding more videos to your blog posts to keep the readers more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good but since I’m more of a visual learner,I found that to be more helpful well let me know how it turns out. This is good…thanks for sharing

    • Hi, you know that is a very good suggestion. I have been tossing this around in my head for awhile. I don’t typically shoot video, but every so often the possibility enters my head that videos would be a way to energize things a bit.
      I doubt, though I haven’t researched it, that the video size would be dinky, compared to the size of the still images, so I wonder how jarring or unsatisfying it might be for a viewer used to larger images…. but I will take another look at it…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.