Photo Contest Judges

13th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Photo Contest


David Hibbard
Fine art photographer David Hibbard traces his career back to age 7 when on a family vacation he attempted to record the magnificent Big Sur Coast with a Brownie camera. "Even then I wondered if it was possible to improve upon the results," he recalled. As an adult, David's passion for photography never waned, despite the demands of a Silicon Valley career. Encouragement, first from Ansel Adams then later from Marion Patterson, helped David find his way as a photographic artist. Recently, David retired from his "first" career to work full-time on photographic projects. The forest, coastal, and wetland environments of the Bay Area -- places he explored with great care and patience -- are an ongoing focus of his work. His photography has won many local awards (including previous Palo Alto Weekly contests). David frequently exhibits his work and teaches workshops on the art of photography.

"The high quality of the photographs submitted made for some tough judging decisions. What separates a winning photograph from one that is merely good? Above all, I want the photograph to engage me in some way. Content, compositional integrity, technical excellence, and presentation should all work in harmony to draw me into the image -- to bring me back to it a second, third, fourth time."

--Dave Hibbard

Ellen Manchester
Ellen Manchester is a photography curator, arts administrator and editor. She has been a consultant and panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and a juror for numerous photography competitions. In 1995 she served as guest curator of photography for "Facing Eden: 100 Years of Landscape Art in the Bay Area" for the de Young Museum (San Francisco), and in 2001 she was co-curator of "After the Storm: Bob Walker and the Art of Environmental Photography" for the Oakland Museum. She was co-founder and project director of The Rephotographic Survey Project published as Second View. She and her husband, Robert Dawson, were the founders and co-directors of The Water in the West Project -- a collaborative photographic project addressing water issues in the American West. She is the author of "Arid Waters: Photographs from the Water in the West Project"; photographic editor for the book, "Colorado: Visions of an American Landscape"; and co-curator of the University of Colorado's exhibition and book "The Great West: Real/Ideal."

Norbert von der Groeben
Norbert joined the staff of the Palo Alto Weekly six months ago as chief photographer. Prior to that, Norbert spent close to 17 years with the Contra Costa Times, working as a staff photographer and a photo editor. Other career highlights include teaching photo editing for one year at San Jose State University, serving a stint as president of the California Press Photographers Association and running the annual photo contest for the San Francisco Bay Area Press Photographers Association. Even after being in the business for more than 20 years, he remains energized by photojournalism. Norbert still gets a thrill coming back from an assignment with photos that show moments and emotions.

"For me, the youth division of the photo contest was the hardest
category to judge -- and also the most satisfying. Not only were there many great images, but the contestants were not afraid to take chances with their photos. I have judged other youth photo contests but none had this high a caliber of entries. I wish contestants in the adult division would emulate the youngsters and take chances with their photographs. The students' effort paid off wonderfully in the refreshing images submitted for the contest. After judging this contest, I feel energized to take some risks with my own photo assignments at the Weekly."

-- Norbert von der Groben

Steve Kiser
Steve Kiser is an artist and educator. He has been on assignment for several international publications, lectured, given workshops and exhibited his work internationally. Currently he is an instructor at Foothill College, City College of San Francisco and operates his own art studio and workshops. As a photographer, with a background in music and sculpture, he is able to relay a distinctive and individual interpretation on seeing through the camera. The use of space, light and time plays a vital part in his images. "Photography for me has always been an expedition into the unknown. The many paths that lie ahead can unlock an immense variety of possibilities and embark one on an intriguing visual exploration. These paths invite me to explore my environment and then question what I encounter. The Hawaiian phrase; na na i ke kumu (look to the source), has always been my guide."

"The one thing I look for in a photographic image is that someone has gone beyond the surface image and explored their environment with a little more thought. This year I found many of the participants doing just that and especially in the Youth category where a wide range of images intrigue all of us."

--Steve Kiser

Past Photo Contest Winners

2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005
| 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 |1997

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.