Citation: The Feature Photography Award 2016

Citation Year: 2016
Citation Recipient: Tomas Munita
Affiliation: The New York Times
Honored Work: “Cuba on the Edge of Change”

A woman sharing a taxi ride to Santiago de Cuba in January 2016. Cuba can feel like a nation abandoned. The aching disrepair of its cities, the untamed foliage of its countryside, the orphaned coastlines — a half-century of isolation has wrapped the country in decay. Yet few places in the world brim with as much life, a contrast drawn sharper amid its faded grandeur. Photo: Tomás Munita

A weathered barbershop in Old Havana in December 2015. Cubans know how to wait. Yet after decades of Communist rule, they are less prepared for the feeling of opportunity now permeating the island, and their government's resistance to letting them seize it. Photo: Tomás Munita

An elderly man at his timeworn home in Trinidad, Cuba in December 2015. Textures in Cuba can be as important as those living among them, testaments to the hard years of privation and perseverance. Visitors love the museum-like quality of the streets, the disrepair of Old Havana, the strafed paint of colonial homes, each surface bearing its own unique, exceptional, history. Photo: Tomás Munita

A crowd gathered to watch a cockfight in the countryside near Vinales, Cuba in January 2016. Breaking out of Havana is essential, eye-opening, often impossible. Flights are irregular, leaving in their own good time — if at all. The search for a car that can handle the gouged roads and aged infrastructure will plumb the depths of one's patience. The effort, though, is worth it. The country yields all the complexity, beauty and idiosyncrasy of one of the world's few remaining frontiers. Photo: Tomás Munita

The interior of a home in Santiago de Cuba in January 2016. From the outside, the destruction is palpable. Paint molts from walls. Structures list to one side. Facades torn from the edges of homes leave dollhouse interiors exposed to the elements. Look closer, though, at knickknacks arranged just so on splintered shelves. Cracked floors swept clean. Plastic flowers perfectly arranged. Quiet pride in every detail. Photo: Tomás Munita

A taxi driver beneath a canopy at a park in Havana in February 2016. The trappings of the past are literal in Cuba — the ancient cars, the faded posters of Fidel. It can, at times, seem studied, a museum of quaintness, until you need a ride somewhere and come to realize that these classics, not meant to be cute, are vital transportation for the Havana masses. Photo: Tomás Munita

Fidel Castro’s funeral procession passed through Santa Clara in December. Cuba declared nine days of mourning after Castro's death, a period that culminated with his funeral. Photo: Tomás Munita

Children crying as the caravan carrying Castro's ashes passed in Santa Clara in December. The sadness, and profound sense of loss, stretched across generations and locales, as Cubans reckoned with a future beyond Castro. Photo: Tomás Munita

Members of the Youth Labor Army waited along the road to Santiago de Cuba at dawn for Castro's caravan in December. The contradiction of Castro's Cuba persisted in his passing. Across the generations, there were tears and genuine sorrow. Others hardly mourned, keeping quiet all the same, out of fear, respect or a sense of social obligation. In death, as in life, Castro demanded reverence. Photo: Tomás Munita

Women carrying the train of a bride's gown outside the cathedral in Santiago de Cuba in January 2016. To capture human life in Cuba is to bear witness to the commonplace: a wedding, a haircut, a checkpoint, the mundane wrapped in the nation's beauty. Photo: Tomás Munita

A farmer approached travelers to offer them a tour on horseback in the countryside near Viñales, Cuba in January 2016. Tourism is inescapable in today's Cuba. For Cubans, this is for now the highest rung in the emerging economic order, one of the few ways to break free of monthly salaries that could scarcely pay for an hour of parking in Miami. Cubans scrape together what they can to offer services outside their areas of specialization. Photo: Tomás Munita

Framed in her doorway, a woman swept her home in Baracoa in January 2016. Life is lived in public here, doors cast open to the night, beckoning the passers-by. Cubans are a welcoming lot, if the photographer is willing to step beyond the obvious and venture into their lives. Photo: Tomás Munita