In December 2010, if you had told me that this portrait, shot in this location was going to happen, I would have laughed and told you that it was a foolish dream. But then again, if you had told many people about what Cuba would like in 2016, “foolish dream” wouldn’t be too far off. In December 2010, I was sitting in a cigar bar in Atlanta talking to Frank Herrera. It was the first time I’d ever spoken at length to a Cuban-American about Cuba, and Herrera was taking me to school, or church, perhaps both.

Herrera, like many Cuban-Americans, has some strong thoughts about the country, its leaders and its cigar company. But unlike most Cuban-Americans, Herrera has actually taken on Corporation Habanos S.A., in court.

By trade, he’s an attorney specializing in trademarks. His clients include a laundry list of cigar companies. He’a also a brand owner, best known for his La Cardidad del Cobre cigars, and by my count, he’s the third blogger to be featured in this series. While I don’t agree with Herrera on every position he has about Cuba, I learned a lot that night, including two lessons that have stuck with me since. In the countless conversations I’ve had over the years about what the end of the embargo might mean. One, it will be messy. Two, the end of the embargo does not mean the end of communism or the dictatorship. — Charlie Minato.

Frank Herrera

This portrait was taken in the José Martí airport in Havana, Cuba, in the airport’s smoking lounge during a 10-hour delay. It was shot using a Canon 5D Mark III and a 50mm f/1.2 lens set at f/1.2. The shutter speed was 1/160 second at ISO 2000. There were two sources of light: incandescent light from the ceiling and hand held video lights held to Herrera’s left. The photograph was color corrected in Adobe Lightroom, adjusted for color, contrast and sharpness and converted to black and white using custom actions in Photoshop CC.

The bio was written by Charlie Minato, the photograph and its description are produced by Brooks Whittington.

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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.