Roberto Salas was born in New York City in 1940, son of the accomplished Cuban born photographer Osvaldo Salas. While the elder Salas won recognition for his portraits of sports legends like Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, it was his son Roberto who caught the attention of Fidel Castro, himself.
Osvaldo Salas first met Castro in 1955 while the Communist leader was fundraising in New York City. In 1957, a 16-year-old Roberto Salas published a photo in Life magazine of the Statue of Liberty draped in a Cuban Flag. That photo became an iconic image.
In 1959, Roberto and his father began serving as photographers for the Cuban government newspaper, Revolucion. The two went to Cuba after Castro sent a message to the elder Salas: « Tell him to come back, we need him. »
For nearly fifty years, Roberto has lived in Cuba and worked as a freelance photographer, documenting the stories of that nation, the saga of its revolution and the life of its enigmatic leader. His work is extraordinary for it’s perspective and it’s breadth.
In 1998, many of his photos were published in a collection entitled Fidel’s Cuba: A Revolution in Pictures. Several of the photos in the book had never been seen before in the United States. There are images from the Bay of Pigs and of delegates arguing on the UN floor to more poignant moments that showcase Salas’ skill as a portrait artist. These remarkable photos include images of the famous and the infamous, from Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, to Ernest Hemingway smiling with a fishing trophy in hand.
Salas has also served as a UN correspondent and as a war correspondent in Vietnam, Cambodia and other parts of Southeast Asia. He has had more than forty one-man shows worldwide and has garnered more than 100 prizes and honorable mentions in major photo competitions. He continues to live and work as a free lance photographer in Havana, Cuba.