Janet Bell struck gold this year in her first photo contest. Her photograph, "Magnolia Blossoms," won third place in the Peninsula Nature category.
A landscape contractor who owns a landscape and design company, Bell has been dabbling in photography for the past 20 years. However, in the last year and a half she has started taking her hobby more seriously.
It all started when her uncle gave her his spare camera and she started experimenting. There have been many other cameras ever since.
Later she saw a friend who did hand coloring. That intrigued her and influenced her to take a course.
"I got hooked to photography ever since," Bell said. "I enjoy shooting people and nature. However, I get more intrigued with flowers and details rather than landscapes. I have always been inspired by photographers who do details of vegetables and flowers."
It is not surprising then that her winning photograph is of magnolias in full bloom. A friend of hers had a magnolia tree laden with flowers, making it an exquisite sight to behold.
She placed a bunch of these flowers on her couch and brought some lights from Foothill College, where she has been taking classes for the past year. And in her makeshift studio she clicked her winner.
Bell has been a landscape designer for the past 11 years and enjoys her work. However, her love for photography tends to overshadow her dedication to her work.
"I have my own business, and I can play around with the timings, which can be bad at times as my work suffers as a result," Bell said. "But I can't help it. Photography is my greater passion."
She said she was very excited to win the award in the Weekly's photo contest.
"It feels very validating," She said. "Although my friends tell me how beautiful my work is, it always feels good to be recognized by someone who does not know me."