Peninsula People


First Place

"The Nemeths"

by Yael Barzilai

Yael Barzilai has lived next door to Eunice and Stephen Nemeth in Sunnyvale for five years.

She finally worked up the courage to ask if she could photograph them.

"It took me a long time to get to that point," said Barzilai, a 42-year-old software engineer and mother of three who is originally from Israel.

Her winning photograph was the very first she shot of the couple, while they were just sitting down.

"Just this one, I took before they were really ready," she explained.

"I think it was more natural and shows more of their character."

Barzilai likes the contrast between Stephen, still and looking calmly at the camera, and Eunice, almost a blur of motion and not quite settled.

"I like the reaction between them and how special they both are in different ways," she said.

Barzilai has always liked photography but became serious about it two years ago when some friends gave her a photography class as a gift.

She enjoys capturing people in their environments and mostly takes street snapshots for the reality they reveal.

"When you try to have a planned photo, people start posing and it's a bit difficult," she said.

Barzilai hopes to capture more of the diversity of her Sunnyvale neighborhood with future photographs. She has lived in Sunnyvale for 9 years.

This was her first time submitting to the photo contest.

Second Place

"My Head Among the Cubes"

by Tad Doxsee

It is late and you are alone in an empty, quiet sea of cubicles.

Your coworkers have headed home and you are left with the quiet hum of your computer, the clicking of your fingers on the keyboard and the looming deadline that is keeping you at work in the middle of the night.

For Tad Doxsee, a 48-year-old software engineer at PTC in Santa Clara, working late feels like "your brain is detached from the rest of your body."

The blank, driven and desperate expression he captured in "My Head Among the Cubes" is his own.

And it was not easy to come by since Doxsee was the man both behind and in front of the camera.

To achieve the image he wanted, Doxsee had to set a timer and then run around the cubicles to stand in the right place.

"I didn't know what the expression was until I was developing the film," he said.

This picture strays from Doxsee's typical subjects. He said that he never photographs himself and rarely shoots other people.

"My family would tell you I take pictures of rocks and trees, mostly," he said.

Photography has been a hobby for the 20-year Palo Alto resident ever since he was a kid.

"I was always the guy who had the camera, nothing too serious," Doxsee said.

Only recently did he decide to learn how master black-and-white darkroom technique by taking a class at the Palo Alto Adult School.

"I've been trying to spend more time taking pictures," he said.

This year is his first win in the Weekly's photo contest.

Third Place

"Eyes on the Ball"

by Deven Hickingbotham

Deven Hickingbotham knows how to be in the right place at the right time.

That ability, a key ingredient to good sports photography along with a knowledge of the sport, allowed Hickingbotham to capture an intense moment during a girls' varsity lacrosse game between Menlo and Stevenson Schools two years ago.

"Everything really came together," he said. "Technically, it was perfect."

From the sidelines, Hickingbotham, 50, was able to catch two opponents vying for the bright yellow ball -- all in razor-sharp focus with nothing but green field in the background.

When he's not working as a software developer, Hickingbotham photographs sports for Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, where his daughter and son are both in high school.

His work often ends up on the school's Web site or in the hands of appreciative parents.

Beginning with his own home darkroom in eighth grade, Hickingbotham took an extended break from photography when "careers and things took off."

Hickingbotham picked it up again five years ago and switched to a digital camera, focusing his lens on two very different subjects: sports and landscapes.

With sports, "there's a lot of human action. There are emotional peaks and valleys, moments of excitement."

"Any sport I can justify going to and getting field access to," Hickingbotham will be there. He particularly welcomes the challenge of capturing alpine skiing -- an endeavor that also requires being a confident, daring skier.

He has submitted art to the photo contest for the past four years and has lived in Palo Alto for the past 24. This is his second third-place award.

Honorable Mention

"Mission Men"

by Laurie Naiman

Honorable Mention

"Ten-Minute Break"

by Tyra Gilb

Honorable Mention

"Bobby with Sister Looking On"

by Kelly Starr

Judges' comments

"'The Nemeths' by Yael Barzalai was my favorite photo in the contest; I liked it the minute I saw it. It was a simple photo of an older couple that perfectly illustrates the love and understanding that they have for one another. 

"'My Head Among the Cubes' by Tad Doxsee is very funny photograph that grabbed me and made me want to take a closer look. 

"'Eyes on the Ball' by Devon Hickingbotham is a great peak-action lacrosse photo with lots of drama and tension."


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Short story writers wanted!

The 32nd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by April 6. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details