22nd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Photo Contest
First Place, Portraits - Youth 17 and Under

"Noam"

By Hanna Oberman

Palo Alto teenager Hanna Oberman started taking pictures seriously when she was in eighth grade, after getting a camera as a gift.

"I started playing around with it and really liked it, and my friends liked getting nice pictures of themselves," the 17-year-old said. Another reason: "I don't like being in front of the camera, so I stepped behind it."

In "Noam," a family friend who was playing in the Obermans' hot tub began to cry when he ran out of apple juice -- and Oberman began to shoot.

"I always take a lot of pictures. He's a really photogenic kid, and I got lucky with this one," she said.

Always on the lookout for photo opportunities, the junior at Kehillah Jewish High School carries her Nikon DSLR around with her. She enjoys incorporating her photography into mixed-media art projects and journaling -- and some of her work hangs on the walls of Kehillah.

Oberman took up street photography -- shooting people she sees around a city and making up stories about them -- after seeing an exhibit of street photographer Bruce Gilden's work in New York City. She's tried it in New York and also in Palo Alto.

"But I have to be careful when I'm taking pictures here because sometimes I'll write a story for somebody that one of my friends knows, and it's awkward."
As for Noam, he's thrilled to be part of winning a contest -- and excited that his picture will be in the paper, the photographer said.

— Chris Kenrick

Judge's Comment:

The winning photographers in the Youth: Portraits category all took young people as their subject matter, each demonstrating a compelling connection between camera and subject.

Choosing to photograph in black and white, first-place winner Hanna Oberman creates a moody portrait of a young boy, "Noam." Pared down and effectively composed, the details of this photograph -- the droplets of water on the boy's cheek and mysterious textures in the background -- captured our attention.

— Angela Buenning Filo

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