Wednesday, December 31, 2014

PHOTOS OF THE YEAR: Miami Herald Staff Photographers

Miami Herald staff photographers were asked to submit the image from the past year that meant the most to them, and to share their thoughts about why it mattered.

Pamela Rauseo, 37, performs CPR on her nephew, 5-month-old Sebastian de la Cruz, after pulling her SUV over on the side along the west bound lane on Florida State Road 836 just east of 57th Avenue when Sebastian stopped breathing. At right is Lucila Godoy, who stopped her car to assist in the rescue. A still photograph can change the course of history, affect policy, raise awareness and cause leaders to act. And, in this case, maybe it can inspire others to become trained in CPR techniques — and to swiftly offer their assistance.

On the evening of October 22, 2013, in Inglis, Fl., Stacy Molinelli and her son, launch a heart-shaped paper latern during a small memorial service to remember her 5-year-old granddaughter, Ashton Arnold, on the one year anniversary of the child's death. Ashton's mother, Elizabeth Rydbom, Molinelli's daughter, was charged with child neglect in Ashton's death and is serving time in jail. Molinelli blames DCF for her granddaughter's death.

This photo of a little boy taken in January on Ile de la Tortue, an island off the northwest coast of Haiti, appeals to me because it tries to capture light and shadow — and the dichotomy of modern Haiti — in a 4-year-old child's face. Emerson Opstaint lost his father at sea after Remy Opstaint sailed from Ile de la Tortue to seek a better life for his family. He was among hundreds who risked deadly sea voyages this year from the island. Gorgeous and desolate, the rustic island's sun-bleached shores are strewn with the skeletons of wooden sailboats. Looking back on 2014, a year that ended with my mother's death, this photo means even more to me. She believed that children were the world's most precious natural resource — and hope for the future. That's what I see in Emerson's face.

This photo was taken at the Miami Dolphins game during which the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Fins at Sun Life Stadium. It’s one of those photos where the image matched not only the outcome of the game (one of our stories stated “the Miami defense was run over”) but the moment was also shown on ESPN Sports Center highlights segment.

“Winning Is Not Everything” — Orlando resident Mohannad Abuzant, 24, lifts his 5 month-old son, Mazem, as he and other tri-athletes cross the finish line. About 2,500 athletes participated in 2014 Life Time South Beach Triathlon as they swam, biked and ran through the sun and sand of South Beach on April 6. The race helped raise funds to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Victory is not always measured in terms of 1st Place, but in remembering the reason you competed in the first place. It was amazing how that thought transformed visually.

Chad Smith takes a head-first tumble during the bull riding competition at the 65th Homestead Championship Rodeo on January 25. This event in Homestead took me out of Miami, and into an area of Dade County that reminded me of the early years when I got started in photography. I was only 16 when I shot my first rodeo.

This wrenching photo assignment was for the sentencing of a man found guilty of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident involving a death. I teared up as I photographed the sister, mother and stepfather of 13-year-old Kaely Camacho — killed in a horrific crash when Sandor Guillen plowed his SUV into the Camacho family minivan in 2012. In Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ellen Sue Venzer's courtroom on June 6, I snapped the shutter as family members and supporters wept as they listened to a recording of the 911 call made by Kaely's big sister, Bree Ann Camacho, right.

Every day it seems like tragedy hits the streets of South Florida. A woman is restrained by Miami-Dade police officers in the 2400 block of NW 90th Street from entering the crime scene area where another woman was murdered. The impact of crime stretches miles past the “crime scene tape.” We hear of these horrible events sometimes not realizing how crime affects families, friends, neighbors, community and society.