For the first time in more than 50 years, Cuba is home to a small, if scrappy, private business sector. One of the more colorful start-ups on the island nation caters to 15-year-old girls.
Daniela Santo Torres left Cuba when she was 3 years old. Returning for her quinceanera photos and party meant she could include family and friends she wouldn't otherwise see at home in Arizona. | (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
The quinceanera is an Hispanic tradition honoring a young girl's coming of age. The 15th birthday celebrations vary across Latin American countries, from the strictly religious to wedding-level glitz and glamour. No matter the party's tone, the honoree at its center is typically decked out in a sparkly crown and yards of undulating, brightly colored fabric.
When even the most modest of affairs can be expensive, Cuba has emerged as an affordable quinceanera destination. The island's new photography and event-planning businesses are able to offer extremely competitive prices, attracting residents with extra cash to spend and Cuban-Americans living abroad. Below, a look at Cuba's quinceanera's boomlet:
Camila Lopez Rivas left Cuba for Miami when she was just a baby. She doesn’t remember the island, but wanted to return to take photographs and videos. | (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Daniela Santo Torres puts on makeup. | (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
A girl poses during her quinceanera photo session near the Catedral in Havana. | (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Daniela Santos Torres chooses a dress at the company her family hired to take her portraits and organize her birthday party. | (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Gladys Barroso Quintana, 15, who lives in Cuba, poses for photographers outside the Russian Orthodox Church in Havana. | (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Girls watch Amanda Teresa Betancourt, who lives in Cuba, during her quinceanera photo shoot with EstudiosMayer in Havana. | (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Camila Lopez Rivas poses for quinceanera portraits with a member of a Cuban band. | (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Gladys Barroso Quintana changes behind her parents' car from a traditional quinceanera dress to a more modern one. | (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Estefania Hernandez Perera, 14, who lives in Cuba, is photographed by FotoEcos, a studio that specializes in quinceaneras. | (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Amanda Teresa Betancourt practices her opening dance with her boyfriend before her party. | (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)