17th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Photo Contest
First Place, Views Beyond the Peninsula
By Jack Simon
About Jack Simon
Click on photo for larger image.
According to Jack Simon, the artist behind two first-place photographs in this year's contest, "Summer" is emblematic of the kind of street photography that characterizes his artistic style.
"'Summer' is more about street photography and being out there in public places and looking for that exciting image," Simon said. "It's more about what I tend to do."
Taken in Camden, Maine, the photo captures the bright colors and textures of the warmest season.
"It's mostly about color," Simon said. "This woman was juggling these two large colorful drinks, and I was intrigued. I just was intrigued with how colorful it all looked. So I asked her if I could take the picture."
But Simon wasn't interested in a traditional portrait of the woman's face. Instead, he decided to focus on her hands. "I just focused on what to me was the subject -- her fingernails against the dress and those two drinks."
The eye-popping colors in "Summer" contrast sharply with the gentle light and soft edges of Simon's other first-place photograph, "Morning Light."
As the title would suggest, "Summer" has a fundamentally seasonal message.
"To me, it creates a certain feeling of summer and of youth," Simon said. "Why is this woman holding two glasses? It's a small mystery, but I think it adds a little interest to it."
Simon shot the frame during a one-week photography workshop in Rockport, Maine.
"It was really focusing on street photography," Simon said. "We'd be set loose in an environment and then come back and critique the photos."
But even when he's not in a class, Simon always looks at the world from the perspective of a photographer.
"My brain has been in a kind of state where I see things more intensely," he said. "Even if I don't have the camera with me, I get the sense that some part of my brain is looking for a photograph."
Although Simon's photos seem naturally beautiful, he said that not every picture he takes produces a prize-winning photo. In fact, he said it takes a lot of work and practice to get one great shot.
"I go through what I've taken, and I'll look at the photographs I come back with, and I'll probably delete 95 percent of them," Simon said. "Of the 5 percent I keep, maybe one of them will be one I really like."
But Simon doesn't let that discourage him. Instead, he keeps going out into the world, camera in hand, to find that one amazing shot -- or, in this case, two.
"I'm sort of on the hunt," Simon said. "I want to find something that's out there on the street or out there in my world that is interesting or that comes together in a way that could look interesting."