2012 AIPP Australian Travel Photographer of the Year

On Monday, I was awarded the AIPP honors of, Master of Photography for my wedding & travel work over the last 4 years.. and with these four images, (scroll down), i also won the 2012 AIPP Australian Travel Photographer of the Year.. (woohoo) – a BIG gala dinner in Melbourne.. so yes, let’s just say, we had a BIG night, & we can leave it at that..

we were sitting at a rickety table in the dirt, opposite a cuban man about our age i guess.. in the Vanalés Valley, Cuba.. it was hot, like 37 degrees C, & we (just the two of us), were on a horse riding tour around some volcanic caves & tobacco farms.. the countryside was absolutely stunning..

our guide had stopped us for a rest.. he immediately fell asleep in a hammock nearby while we were to have a chat to this local dude about rolling cigars the traditional cuban way.. the only english word he knew was ‘cigar’, & we’d left our spanish phrase book in the car..

our new friend was talking a lot & we had no idea what he was saying, but could see that he was rolling a cigar.. there was a lot of smiling & nodding from our side of the table.. when he was done, he calmly reached under the table & produced a tied bundle of 40 hand-rolled cigars.. unlabelled, unmarked, unpackaged, fat gangster cigars.. & he motioned for us to buy them (for about $AUD90)..

we’d been warned at the airport on arrival that buying unregistered street cigars was a really bad idea.. and as i was pretty sure that the spanish word for ‘no’ is…  ‘no’.. i politely smiled & then said ‘no’ (in my bestest ever spanish accent)..  our friend simply re-offered the cigars to us.. so, i tried to politely demonstrate using ‘charade’ style actions that we couldn’t take them with us due to Australia’s strict quarantine laws.. still, our friend offered them again communicating (i think), that he knows for a fact that “Australia is fine” & that everyone that comes through here buys his cigars *paraphrasing charades actions here* ..

we all then just sat there, in silence at the rickety table, staring blankly at each other.. & between us, was a very thick invisible brick language wall… and 40 cuban cigars..

the amazing thing is, that although neither of us could understand a word the other was saying, we all knew exactly what was being said.. “buy these cigars”.. “no”..  [repeat].. it was probably the single most socially uncomfortable & awkward 11 minutes i’ve ever experienced..

Alyda & I were so far out of our comfort zones, we couldn’t even see them any more – comfort zone was gone… lost….  and it felt amazing!

this is why we love to travel :)


cuba photographerhavana cuba travel photographertravel photographernew york photographer

show hide 26 comments

13 June 2012 - 4:53 pm

Olivia Ross These are just stunning Todd! Congratulations.

8 June 2012 - 9:54 pm

Fiona Nice one team Mcgaw! Gorgeous images:)

6 June 2012 - 5:52 pm

Wayne Hou Congratulations

1 June 2012 - 4:53 pm

Vicki McGaw Congratulations by the way!!! Happy that we were able to share a smidgen of the behind the scenes with you as well!

1 June 2012 - 4:48 pm

Vicki McGaw Gold winning photo had gasp effect for me. Proud that you find the beauty in reality, humility & acceptance. “There but for the Grace of God……”! Neat Todd xx

1 June 2012 - 3:06 pm

Stew Awesome stuff man, congrats and congrats!

31 May 2012 - 9:26 pm

Lachlan McGaw Hey mate, what about a print of the bottom photo for my birthday.

31 May 2012 - 9:25 pm

Cam Great work, love all the photos, but the last pic (especially) looks like it belongs in the Getty archive in NY!

31 May 2012 - 7:37 pm

juanita Grand Master Toddy! I like it. Congrats. Cool pics. Great story…

31 May 2012 - 1:39 pm

Tenielle Master. Finally you earned yourself the Ninja-like title that you’ve always wanted. MASSIVE congrats guys, so well deserved.

31 May 2012 - 1:33 pm

Moira Coates Stunning – I love your ability to make the ordinary extraordinary. Beautiful work and a well deserved honour!

31 May 2012 - 1:32 pm

Peter /bow

31 May 2012 - 1:21 pm

Ona CONGRATULATIONS:-) very very inspiring work, love the B&W’s but the top image…lady on balcony…so stunning, didn’t see that category being judged but when I returned that image stopped me dead in my tracks, superb print. my fave of the whole weekend I reckon. BEAUTIFUL.

31 May 2012 - 1:16 pm

El Hooooooray!!! Beautiful images and well deserved of all their fancy recognition! xoxo

31 May 2012 - 12:40 pm

Jack Chauvel Congrats Todd & Alyda.. the hard work pays off :)

31 May 2012 - 12:39 pm

John Reyment Todd, what a wonderful achievement, congrats to you and Alyda. I love your images, Cuba has always been a bucket list destination for me, you have inspired me to take it off the list and make it happen. Thanks for sharing your inspiring images. Cheers, JR.

31 May 2012 - 12:33 pm

Ben Murphy So rad man!

31 May 2012 - 10:25 am

Kristen Cook Yeah Todddddddddy!!!!!! WOOOHOOOO! :)

31 May 2012 - 9:51 am

Kim Selby Huge congratulations! I LOVED seeing these being judged. I loved them all, but that bottom one – I think I stared at that for a full 5 minutes when I saw it up on the wall. Love it so much.

31 May 2012 - 9:35 am

Tina well done, you should be so proud x

31 May 2012 - 8:30 am

Kelly Tunney TODDDDDDY!!!!! So proud of you and this massive recognition you so hugely deserve…..I have to say it was a true honour to be sitting next to you as they called you up on stage – a massive highlight of my night too xxxxxxx

31 May 2012 - 8:26 am

Erica Congratulations Todd! Great work. :)

31 May 2012 - 8:18 am

hailey yipee and yahoo and soooo cool too! YOUR amazing mr Todd! So are you Alyda!!

31 May 2012 - 8:11 am

Chloe That’s why they pay you the big bucks. Congratulations on the awards! Bring them to London-I want to see!

31 May 2012 - 8:06 am

Anya Congratulations Todd! All amazing image, but I absolutely love the two black and whites, love!

5 June 2012 - 12:46 am

wanderlust | Studio Home […]  Todd Hunter McGaw. The newly crowned  2012 AIPP Australian Travel Photographer of the Year. For good reason…. This entry was posted in art, Australia, photography and tagged todd hunter mcgaw. Bookmark the permalink. ← Gwendolynne […]