Open Competition Winners: Havana Running Away By Etienne Souchon

Let’s continue one more inspirational story here by the winner of the Sony World Photography Awards Open Competition in the Street category Etienne Souchon.  If you want to find a story to give you motivation, here it is! Etienne shared with us the amazing moments, emotions he lived, and make us emotional too 😊 That’s why welcome to Etienne and his “Havana Running Away” story! Let’s scroll down and be ready to impressed!

Firstly, we appreciate that you accepted our kindly interview request, and thank you for this chance to learn about you and your photography stories 😊 While I’m writing for the Open competition winners, really impressed by all pictures. To be honest, I couldn’t choose the best, because every picture is very beautiful from different perspectives and reflects life. That’s why I would like to learn the background of these pictures stories and here we are😊 If you’re ready, let’s start to divine up to your photography journey!

  • Let’s start with knowing about you more. Who is Etienne? How can you describe yourself to people you don’t know? What’s your and your photographer’s journey?

I’m Etienne, from Toulouse in the southwest of France. Passionate about music (I’m a beatmaker) since I was a kid, I studied sound engineering after my bachelor’s degree. After my diploma, I was craving for travels and for discovering the world so I looked for the first job I could find to earn money as fast as I could. I worked in a hospital, in the kitchen, and service in the rooms. That’s how I saved enough money to leave. I started by living a year in Canada and it has been the starting point of a long series of travels, for years on and off,

working here and there. Since I was moving all the time it was not easy to carry all my instruments to produce my music. So I left a bit of music besides, knowing that I will take it back as soon as will settle down a bit. And this is how photography came into my life. I found here a new way to express myself. I started with a gopro and my phone, then I bought a compact camera on the road. I became more and more fascinated about it, got myself a better camera and real quick photography became a real passion for me!

  • I checked your page and saw many people’s pictures in daily life. I guess you like taking a picture from inside of life. Is it randomly or do you like to reflect life flow?

I love photography in general, but what I like the most is street photography. There is something special for me in capturing real samples of life, daily details, actions, and emotions, without interacting at this moment. I think why is it so powerful is because when you see a picture showing a daily scene, you can emotionally identify with the “character”, have empathy. Plus you can imagine all different sorts of stories about it. Another thing is the fun and the excitement that shooting street brings you! You never know what is going to happen. Feels a bit like chasing I guess, but in a good way since you are only chasing moments and lights. Being at the right spot and pressing the shutter at the right time, trying to understand people to anticipate things, it really feels like a game, it’s so much fun.

  • Time to talk about competition😊Firstly, I would like to ask how did you decide to join the Sony World Photography Awards? When you applied for the competition, did you think you would win?

I found the advertisement for the contest (or should I say the advertisement found me!) on Instagram at the end of December. The deadline was really soon and I just thought “let’s try!”. I had a bunch of pictures from my two last trips to Cuba and Portugal which I didn’t even take the time to edit yet. So I dug into them to make my selection and find the ones which gave me a real feeling, and I entered the contest.  I felt this photo was very soulful to me, but I didn’t think about a potential chance to be shortlisted. I was just in the mood “we never know!”So the day I got the news that I even won the category.. wow! it was totally mindblowing! I’m so honored.

  • And here is the most I’m curious what’s the story of “Havana Running Away”? Also, it reminded me that nostalgic times because of the old car, and white-black colors tones. Can you mention how did you photograph this picture?

It was in the morning, I arrived the night before and this was my first real walk in Havana. I just got out, and was simply on my way to find a place for breakfast so I was not especially looking for shooting at this very moment, but fortunately I had my camera around my neck!

I first saw this car in the middle of the street, and all this life around, there was already a kind of special atmosphere. And there was this kid, running from far away on the right side of the frame coming toward my direction. I didn’t think twice, grabbed my camera, and tried to get the best out of this scene! I’m very lucky that on his way the kid passed just in front of me. I think his position in the frame and the motion blur give the dynamic of the picture, plus the fact that he’s looking backward brings some more mystery and tension.

As for the rest of why’s and what’s really happening, I don’t really know and I think the magic of photography is also to allow to people make up their own stories 🙂


  • What’s the secret of taking a good picture? Which kind of details help you that saying “I took a good picture”?

In my opinion, I would say a good picture needs an interesting composition, which attracts the attention of the viewer to the place or the subject wanted by the photographer, and a good story.The timing is very important as well, 2 pictures taken at 1-sec difference can totally change the power and the meaning of the picture and of the stories you wanna tell. And more abstractly, I think you can tell your photo is good if other people can feel the same emotion that you had when you clicked it, that means you managed to transmit your story. For me, a good photo is a good balance between the aesthetics and the story, between lights and life.  

  • What is your advice for people who don’t know too much information about photography? 

I don’t know if I have pieces of advice to give from my still little experience, but I think the main thing if you are interested in photography is to go out shouting as much as you can, explore, find what you like to capture (sport, street, lifestyle..) and most of all, to have fun !! 

The tool really doesn’t matter, since you can shoot a really good photo with a phone today. But regardless of the camera, you are using, try to carry it with you as much as you can and practice. 

For people interested in street photography, I would say even when you are not shooting still try to be aware of what’s going on around, how are the lights, feel the atmosphere, and take mental pictures, I think it’s always good to sharpen your eye.


  • Do you have any memorable times while taking a picture?

It was to this trip to Cuba. We were walking on a lost trail in the Vinales valley between green hills and tobacco farms, and this old man was wearing this large hat leaning on the fence of his farm, his name was Luis! We greeted each other and I asked him if I could take a portrait of him which he accepted without any hesitation. He seemed even really happy and proud

to be photographed. Then as we kept talking together through the fence he invited us to visit his farm, which was a human-scale organic farm of vegetables and some tobacco! I felt that he was really glad of showing us his plantations, and so were we! 

After that, we spent all the afternoon together, talking in the shade of the porch of a little cabinet, in broken Spanish, he offered us to try our first Cuban cigars, made out of the tobacco from the farm! +Before we left he invited us to come the day after in the evening, to his little house in town to take a coffee and meet his wife. We had some coffee, then some rhum and we spent the evening sharing about our lives. At the time to say goodbye for good, he came to me with me a pouch with a dozen of his cigars, and in return, I gave him a bracelet from Nepal that I had for years. It is funny to think that all this started with a portrait, photography gives you the chance to live such interesting experiences sometimes! I will never forget these amazing people.


  • Everyone has sentences that describe their life and then these sentences take a turn into our part of a lifestyle. I feel that you like to be part of people’s life you don’t know. That’s why I would like to ask can be your motto related to that? What is the motto that guides you?

 Never lose sight of your dreams 🙂 


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