Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - June 4, 2010

Peninsula People (Youth)

Judges' comments

I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that some our favorite images this year focused on youth as their subject matter. Who better to capture the elusive moods and fleeting moments of youth than these emerging photographers? The Peninsula People category sparked some of the liveliest debate among the judges in recent years. Guy Singer found the perfect location for his first place portrait "Under the Bridge," and Richard Xiang's penetrating second place photo "Classic Beauty" continued to engage us well beyond first glance. In third place, Terra Jones evokes a warm summer day in her cleverly titled "On the Fence."

First place

Under the Bridge

Guy Singer

Guy Singer, 15, first picked up a camera six months ago — he has not put it down since.

The self-taught junior at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto specializes in portraits, mostly of his friends. A few times a week he asks classmates or members of his Jewish youth group to pose for a photo. Eager for a polished shot for their Facebook profiles, subjects do not usually need much convincing.

He took about 50 shots of his friend Jonathan for "Under the Bridge" until he "just kind of caught him sitting back and relaxing."

Singer finds that people make more interesting subjects than trees.

"I prefer portraits to nature and landscape because I usually feel other people could pick up a camera and take pictures with almost identical results, but with people there are a lot more variables involved — you can get more original results," he said.

Singer aims to capture natural expressions and convey as many emotions as possible through his work. Lately, he has been staging more organized shoots rather than snapping random candids, according to his photography blog.

He pays as much attention to the backdrop as to the subject.

"The other day I was at ... (an) international convention in Dallas, Texas," he wrote on his blog. "There was a huge snow storm, and the white lighting from the overcast skies was ideal."

Singer started out on his father's old film camera but has since moved on to digital. That allows him to mute colors, as he did for his winning picture.

So far, Singer has refused to take a class. "I was opposed to classes because I didn't want to learn from someone else," he explained. "I liked the idea of learning it as you go — learning your own style without instructions."

Born in Israel, Singer moved to Palo Alto when he was 10 years old. He remembers the heat best and misses the food most. He stays in touch with his roots through the youth group, which meets on weekends to socialize or do volunteer work. Singer also plays the flute, guitar and saxophone and is in a flute ensemble and a band at school. The rest of his free time is dedicated to soccer.

His win in the photo contest may herald a career in photography. Until now, it had been difficult for Singer to gauge his talent.

"It's hard to get an honest reaction out of people because they'll just say nice things."

Second place

Classic Beauty

Richard Xiang

Third place

On the Fence

Terra Jones

Honorable mention

Untitled

Vincent Tang

—Katia Savchuk

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