“Determination” by Steve Runer

This photo was taken on June 28, 2015, while I was a member of the Board of Directors and official photographer for La Limye Children’s Home in Arcahaie, Haiti. La Limye was founded by Miss Ellen Humerickhouse to take in and raise abandoned infant girls in Haiti; she still runs it today.

This was the second day of a 4-day trip. I was walking around the village of Arcahaie, looking for good opportunities for candid photos that would accurately portray the lives and emotions of the people. On this particular day, I took around 735 photos, eventually keeping 259 that accurately captured the character and lifestyle of the wonderful people in Arcahaie. In my judgment, this particular photo was one of the 5 best of that day.

One should keep in mind that Haiti is quite poor; the children do not have fancy “Western World” toys to play with, but they are quite happy nonetheless (maybe a lesson there?). As I walked the village and interacted with the people, I spotted this young boy playing with friends in a gravel pit. Instantly, I recognized that this boy’s face would tell the “picture worth a thousand words;” I hurriedly framed, focused, and exposed the shot, holding the shutter half-way down, waiting for the magic moment. The instant he turned his gaze my way, I squeezed off the shot of the day.

As soon as I took the photo, he ran up and signed (I don’t speak Haitian Creole) his desire to see the picture… which, of course, I was excited to do. I zoomed the photo in camera so he could see a close-up, and an instant friendship was formed. Each day that I walked the village, he would run up, wrap his arms around my legs, and give me a big hug.

Photography is universal. Photography breaks language barriers, creates instant conversation, and connects people around the world, regardless of cultural differences – when done with respect. I’ve found that a bright smile and a gesture asking permission (when appropriate) is the key to good street candids.

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

  1. The look on the boy’s face… especially his eyes and mouth tell the story of a child’s life in rural Haiti.
  2. The decision to convert and process as black and white makes the picture; a color rendition just wouldn’t have worked.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

Trying as hard as I might, I can’t think of anything. I was as ready as I could possibly be for the opportunity. Candid street photography is not the same as studio work, or landscapes. One doesn’t have the luxury of using tripods and applying artificial lighting. This was a spur-of-the-moment opportunity. The photographer must leave the house with settings dialed in and camera in hand, finger on the shutter. Look for the face, the eyes, and body language, and shoot. Think ahead and put yourself in the ideal position, if you can; but many times, this is not possible. If the background is lacking, or the lighting not ideal, it must be addressed later; it’s the look of the instant that tells the story.

Steve Runer shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Steve Runer, Germantown, Tennessee, USA


Equipment and Settings

Canon 5D Mark III, EF 24-105mm f/4 L
92mm, 1/1600 sec., f/4, ISO 320

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Comments (3):

  1. Amy Helmick

    April 20, 2021 at 05:15

    You said this is one of the top five of the trip; would love to see the other four! This is a beautiful photo and story.

  2. JiÀhn Charlotte

    May 6, 2021 at 13:40

    A wonderful portrait and story.

  3. Desiree Day

    May 15, 2021 at 17:11

    Terrific portrait and wonderful story of your adventure in Haiti.
    Yes, universal it is!
    Thank you.


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