Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - June 4, 2010

Peninsula People (Adult)

Judges' comments

A baby, a cleaver and a 1962 Cadillac DeVille — these three subjects truly reflected the diversity and creativity found in the Peninsula People category this year.

"Essie and the Beater" is not your typical baby photo. Surrounded in warm pastel tones and soft lighting, the toddler eagerly holds out a beater wiped clean, her face smothered in sugary confection as her tongue eagerly licks at the sweetness. The photographer has focused on a playful and messy moment, capturing the sheer fun of being 2 again.

Almost like a scene right out of American Graffiti, "Dazzle Camouflage" is a throwback to the greaser-styled cool of the 1950s and early '60s. Illuminated by the red glow of the taillights, the subject is in perfect symmetry with his car. His hair, leather jacket and white T-shirt almost seem like an extension of his black and white spotted car — epitomizing "camouflage."

"The Restaurateur" truly stood out from this year's group of portraits. The combination of dramatic studio lighting and seemingly menacing subject made us ponder the story behind this photo and left a memorable impression.

We also really loved the beautiful silver tones and repeated lines of the hair and bracelets of the subject found in "Rasta Woman."

First place

Essie and the Beater

Sherann Ellsworth

Menlo Park resident Sherann Ellsworth has been interested in photography since her high school days in the 1970s and loves hitting the road with her camera and husband in tow, seeing what new and intriguing sights she can capture through her lens. But for her award-winning photo "Essie and the Beater," her subject matter was a bit closer to home.

The photo, which shows a gleeful toddler proudly holding out the whipped-cream-bearing utensil she has just licked, was taken over last year's Christmas holiday. The cherubic child is Ellsworth's great niece, Essie, then age 1.5.

"She thought it was the best thing she ever had," Ellsworth said of the tyke. "Her eyes are just sparkling, saying, 'Try this!'"

The photo, along with others Ellsworth created in a montage as a gift for Essie's mother, was an instant family hit — including with Essie herself.

"She says, 'She is pretty! Look at me!'" she recalled, laughing.

For her next photo adventure, Ellsworth, who works at Stanford, plans to continue her recent tradition of an annual three-week road trip around the West Coast, snapping pictures of people and places she finds along the way.

"We like to take the roads less traveled, get out there and see what you see. It's great to be out in nature, away from the pressures at work. We've been doing it for the past seven years," she said.

Proud aunt Ellsworth plans to use her prize money from winning the Weekly's photo contest to start a college fund for Essie. After all, "It's her first modeling job!," she said.

"I just captured a moment in time."

Second place

Dazzle Camouflage

Max Lewis

Artist's statement

This is Clark and his car Daisy, a 1962 Cadillac DeVille with custom "Dazzle Camouflage" paint originally used on battleships in WWI. The disruptive paint scheme is similar to Cubist paintings and was effective in obscuring the direction and speed of the battleships from German U-boats. Since this photograph Daisy has been repainted baby blue and is now for sale to fund further Cadillac restorations.

Third place

Scott Kline

The Restaurateur

Artist's statement

"The Restaurateur" was taken in my studio. I had asked the subject, Ali El Safy, owner of Vido Bistro, to pose for a series of portraits on small-business people I was shooting. It was his idea to bring the meat. I borrowed the cleaver from our kitchen and the rest was easy. It is a very simple shot with grey background and two studio lights. The photo subjects often generate the strongest ideas for portraits.

Honorable mention

Douglas Kreitz

Rasta Woman

—Karla Kane

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