Gene Golovchinsky was touring the 17th-century Hotel de Sully in Paris in February when he spied a free-standing stone wall in one of the courtyards. Placed a few feet from the exterior of the mansion, the unusual element was adorned with rosette windows. Golovchinsky pulled out his trusty Canon 100, stepped into the shadows behind the wall and waited.
It was exactly the type of situation that the software researcher loves. Framing the picture through the stonework, he says, appealed to his fondness for "looking through something that doesn't belong, looking at things in a way that is challenging for the viewer."
The resulting photograph captured not only the wintriness of the day and the sprinkling of curious tourists, it also caught a serendipitous moment when two unrelated items came in close proximity and echoed one another. When a man walked up and the shape of his hood matched the curve of the rosette window, Golovchinsky snapped the shutter.
Golovchinsky, 33, says such occurrences make city photography, as opposed to landscape, most attractive to him. "Individuals can make a scene," he says. "Photographers don't see the same scene when they're shooting."
Joel Leivick, an art and art history lecturer at Stanford and a judge for the photo contest, praised the image as "fresh and original and pretty complex. It told a little open-ended story."
Golovchinsky's interest in photography runs in spurts; some days he takes lots of pictures, other days none at all. He's never taken a photography class but says the hobby runs in his family. Both his brother and father spend a lot of time behind the camera.
When Golovchinsky is not traveling for the Xerox-affiliated lab where he works, he enjoys reading. He modestly says he was not expecting to win the Weekly's contest.
But Stanford's Leivick was quick to compliment the winner on his ability to use the medium "to an expressive end."
"What he did was create something new through his point of view," says Leivick. The image is "personal, but not sentimental."
Golovchinsky confesses he sends his film out for developing. Still, one could argue that he already spends time developing an equally if not more important skill--his own way of seeing the world.