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

 

"Cat's Tail at Sunset"
By Leon Brauer


Click on photo for larger image.

About Leon Brauer

At age 10, Leon Brauer left a crumbling Soviet Union with a suitcase, a camera and a mandate from his grandfather, who stayed behind to tough out religious persecution and a deteriorating political system. His grandfather's only request was that Brauer send pictures of his new life in the United States.

Brauer first arrived in Mountain View but soon moved to Palo Alto, where he has lived off and on for almost 20 years -- leaving at times to pursue an education in photography, first at the University of California San Diego, then at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.

As a youngster, growing up in Moscow, Brauer says he would watch with wonder as his father and grandfather developed pictures in a bathroom they had converted into a darkroom.

"I always found it very interesting and curious," he says of observing the pictures as they slowly emerged from the pool of chemical solution. "It was kind of like alchemy."
He says he has always had an interest in photography, but it was his Gunn High School film teacher, Wayne Hoy, who really inspired him to pursue the art seriously.
Brauer, who has entered several competitions in the past, is pursuing a career in documentary photography.

"I want to capture the essence of the moment," he says, explaining that he simply shoots what he sees and allows the observer to draw his or her own conclusions. "For me photography is really about documenting the experience -- through the two dimensional print, bringing that experience to the audience. I'm not constructing reality, I'm capturing it. The best part for me is when I feel I have done that."

In "Cat's Tail at Sunset," Brauer captures a moment he feels many people living on the Peninsula take for granted because it is such a common sight.

As he was on a hike with friends in Pacifica, Brauer took out his camera -- which he has with him most of the time -- in order to record the moment as the sun was setting and the fog rolling in.

"I thought it was a very typical view in Pacifica with the warmth of the sun but the chill of the fog. It's just a very serene, peaceful, happy moment. I don't know if there is a lot of meaning behind it. Hopefully somebody who sees the picture can get a sense of what I was feeling right then."