18th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Photo Contest
1st Place, Views Beyond the Peninsula
Youth 17 and Under
By Tim Aiken
Click on photo for larger image.
About Tim Aiken
The youngest winner of this year's competition says he likes to look at his award-winning photo, titled "Porcelain Crab," every day. It is a way for him to travel without moving.
"It's hard to remember everything I saw on a trip," says Tim Aiken, 13. "But with photos, I can go back and live the trip again. It draws me back to the Philippines."
He hopes his image will have the same effect on viewers, even if they have not been to the places he has.
"It's cool to share with other people," the Terman Middle School student says. "With photography you can see things you wouldn't normally see -- especially with underwater photography. It's like opening a new world. I like being able to bring people exotic creatures that they wouldn't see regularly."
Aiken's interest in photography first bloomed while traveling Europe with his family. His mother enjoys photography, and she let her son use both an underwater compact camera when the family would go scuba diving, as well as a Nikon D100 for out-of-water shots. At first, Aiken says, he only tinkered with picture taking.
"When I first started taking photographs they were only snapshots," he says. It wasn't until his trip to the Philippines that Aiken really started to think about the artistic elements of a photograph. But since then, he has been concentrating on composing his images. With "Porcelain Crab," Aiken waited for quite some time, trying different flash settings, before he captured his award-winning photo.
The crab, partly shrouded by a sea anemone, peers out at the viewer with one cautious eye. The creature seems unsure whether to greet Aiken's camera or disappear back into the tuberous fingers in which it is enveloped. The bright pinks and reds of the crab work well in contrast with the fluorescent green of anemone.
The budding photographer has lived in Palo Alto since he was 5 and is also interested in music. He plays the French horn.
Two close friends of Aiken's parents are serious photographers and have helped mentor the adolescent, offering constructive criticism and lending him equipment. Winning his first competition is even greater encouragement.
"I was very happy," Aiken says of his award. "It shows that my photos have actually reached a level of acceptance."