In a year like no other marked by a surging pandemic, wildfires and heightened awareness of racial and social injustice, many of the photographs taken after March 2020 in this year's Peninsula Photo Contest have given voice to everyday moments during these not-so-usual times.
These images share stories of isolation, joy and inspiration: from the teen immersed in his phone as the sole connection to his social life while alone in his room during the pandemic to a boy's overwhelming joy of being outside surfing to surreal-looking waves of fog enveloping tree tops on a hazy, smoke-filled day during last summer's wildfires.
For more than two decades, the Palo Alto Weekly and Palo Alto Art Center have teamed up to bring exposure to images taken by budding and professional photographers of all ages through the annual photo contest, which includes entries from anyone who works, lives or attends school in the 650 area code, from Daly City to Sunnyvale.
During this year's competition, the judges reviewed 995-plus images — more entries than any other year — submitted by 169 adult and youth photographers in six categories: Abstract, Landscapes, Moments, Portraits, Travel and Wildlife.
Each of this year's 12 winning images, which were taken between January 2016 and 2021, uniquely capture slices of life as they unfolded at home, outdoors and abroad. Some photos share subtle observations, such as the colorful spiral created by a pet chameleon's long tail wrapped around its body while it sleeps, others memorialize fleeting moments like a dancer's veil in motion around her body as she performs, and one documents transformation over time through self-portraits taken six months apart.
The winning photographs will be on display, along with 20 honorable-mention images selected for exhibition, at the Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto, through June 12 to Aug. 14.
To learn more about the photographers and the ideas and feelings they hoped to convey through their work, visit thesixfifty.com.