In 1954, Heinrich Heidersberger travelled from New York to Havana three times on the MS Atlantic as its on-board photographer. Long since established as a commissioned photographer for architecture and industry, he photographed life on board during the day: the lively activities around and in the pool, sunbathing on deck, passengers at the buffet and during shore leave. These photographs of carefree American middle-class travel life were developed by him at night in an improvised photo lab in the galley, dried, and offered for sale the next evening at dinner for one dollar each. Presumably no buyers were found at the time for the nearly three-hundred surviving color transparencies.
Heidersberger used the time between crossings for photographic forays. In New York he photographed the urban canyons of Manhattan in black and white with his 6×6 Rolleiflex; in Havana he moved around as a documentary and street photographer: his daily-life snapshots of ordinary people create a finely-layered portrait of Cuba under dictator Fulgencio Batista, who was overthrown only a few years later by Fidel Castro’s resistance movement. In 2017, Heidersberger’s photographs were exhibited at the Fototeca de Cuba and are now part of the collection there.