18th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Photo Contest
First Place, Peninsula People

Youth 17 and Under


by Ashley Chu

Click on photo for larger image.

About Ashley Chu

When asked what she might be found doing on any given weekend or weekday after school, Ashley Chu replies with a nonchalant repose that would make the Arthur Fonzarelli proud:

“Hanging out," Chu says.

But where the Fonz used his magic touch to fix malfunctioning jukeboxes, the 17-year-old Chu prefers to capture the commonplace occurrences of daily life and turn them into arresting and enduring images.

"You can take an object and make it really interesting if you have the right photo," she says, explaining her interest in photography. "Even the simplest of objects are interesting if you have the right lighting."

Chu's portrait, "Ari," was taken on an observation deck in Half Moon Bay. Its use of light, shadow and repetitive patterns makes this at first unremarkable moment visually appealing. Additionally, the subject of the photo --a friend of Chu's --draws the viewer in with her piercing stare.

"I really like the stripes that the shadows make," Chu says. "They work well with stripes on her shirt and the lines on the wooden walkway."

This moment could have been just another example of Chu "hanging out" with one of her peers. But ever since Chu has been taking her photography seriously --about a year, she estimates --her camera has been a constant companion.

"I really enjoy taking photos. If I can get out with another photographer friend, we'll go out and shoot," she says.

Having access to the digital cameras at Palo Alto High School inspired her to pursue photography more seriously, she says. In middle school she took some photo classes with analog equipment but found developing pictures in the darkroom to be a somewhat arduous task.

"I'm glad to know somebody likes my photos," says Chu, who has lived in Palo Alto for three years. Winning the competition --the first she has entered --has inspired her to enter more in the future, she adds.

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