You can take photographs freely (except of military and industrial installations, airports, officials in uniform, and sometimes hotels). Most museums charge for photography.
Visitors are allowed to bring one camera plus a video camera, which will be X-rayed (hand inspection is not an option). Official permission is needed to bring “professional” camera equipment. Foto Video and Photo Service stores sell instamatic and small digital cameras. However, there are no camera stores similar to those found in North America or Europe, and 35mm SLRs, lenses, flash units, filters, etc. are unavailable. Bring spare batteries, tapes, and film, which is hard to find.
Snatch-and-grab theft of cameras is a major problem!
Cubans love to be photographed. However, never assume an automatic right to do so. Ask permission to photograph individuals, and honor any wishing not to be photographed. Cubans often request money for being photographed, as do the mulattas in traditional costume in Habana Vieja and other Cubans who dress outrageously as a source of income. If they insist on being paid and you don’t want to pay, don’t take the shot. In markets, it is a courtesy to buy a small trinket from vendors you wish to photograph. Do send photographs to anyone you promise to send to. Few Cubans own cameras and they cherish being gifted photos.
Several foreigners have been arrested for filming “pornography,” which in Cuba includes topless or nude photography.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition