Photographer Antonio Bolfo believes every photo has a heart — a story of that moment. He was one of many photographers who traveled to Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake, and the story he brought back was truly unique.

"There were a lot of photographers there," he says in his talk at TEDxEast, “we photographed a ton of rubble, people trapped under the rubble, looters, corpses, corpses on top of corpses, crime.” That was the gruesome story most people saw.

But Antonio wanted to tell a different story:

As a photographer, I will never be an impartial observer,” he says, “I have feelings … I wanted to still tell a story that brought attention to people in need of assistance, but I wanted to make it more personal and more interpretative.”

He traveled back to Haiti, spending most of his time with a group of people on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, a small community built next to a trash dump. “As far as the eye can see, it’s trash,” Antonio says, “and it’s burning trash. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, it’s always on fire.”

But that bleak picture was not what attracted Antonio to this community. Instead, he was drawn to the community’s kinship, an affinity for one another that he didn’t find in other parts of the world. "I didn’t want to portray them as victims,” he says. “I thought it was more important to celebrate their tenacity to live and their motivation to move forward than anything else."

He took photo upon photo, a few of them above. His favorite image? The one in the middle, which shows a child laying on a bed of bottles the way, he says, children in other parts of the world might lay on the grass or a bed of flowers. He says:

"It really spoke to me, because it says that he’s trying to make the best out of his situation. And honestly, I saw more smiles on these people’s faces than I do sometimes on the streets of New York City."

For more of Antonio’s story, watch his entire talk here.

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