Photo Club takes their pic

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A group of students steadily streamed into F103 during lunch on Feb. 2, eager to hear the winners of Photo Club’s second contest of the year. Themed ‘Colors’, the January contest brought in dozens of entries from students of all grades.

“My favorite part [about contests]is seeing what everyone does with photography,” vice president and junior Julia Ralston said. “It’s interesting to see what people come up with because the themes are really open ended so we get to see a lot of different things and it’s pretty cool.”

Having been both a contestant in previous years and a judge, Ralston recalls that these contests always gave her something to look forward to during the school year. After the discontinuation of contests last year, the officers decided to revive them this year, in hopes of having more members actively participate.

“I think [contests]are a really good way to get our members involved,” Ralston said. “We also don’t restrict it to professional photography; we let people use just their iPhones, so it [allows]anyone to participate.”

In addition to increasing member participation, president and junior Pallavi Komma wants members to use these contests as opportunities to experiment and discover their own styles of photography, instead of just sticking with traditional, “aesthetically pleasing” photos.

“I like to see if the photos are out of the box. Obviously there are ways you can go [that are]very directly with the theme but there are some people who are a little more creative with it and have an eye for the theme,” Komma said. “Photography is all about the eye of the photographer, so I look for style versus whether or not they follow all the rules.”

In the first contest of the year in November, 2017, freshman Michelle Wang had won over the judges with a vibrant photo of a butterfly in a bed of green, aligning quite literally with the contest’s nature theme. Since then, she has continued her engagement in the club, actively trying new things and acquiring skills and techniques, many of which contributed to her submission for the January photo contest.

“I went on a trip to San Francisco [with]this accessory for photography: a clear glass ball,” Wang said. “[When] you take a picture through the ball, it can reflect whatever image you’re trying to take. So, I put it on a ledge and took a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge through the ball.”

However, this month, the title went to “Stinging Like a Yellow Jacket”, a split second capture of a snowboard trick photographed by senior Om Khandekar, who was awarded an action camera. Placing second was junior Jennifer Xu’s “Hanbok” which, according to the officers, seemed “full of stories” despite the serenity of the photo.

“Stinging Like a Yellow Jacket”, senior Om Khandekar (January, "Colors", winner)

“Stinging Like a Yellow Jacket”, senior Om Khandekar (January, “Colors”, winner)

“Hanbok”, junior Jasmine Xu (January, "Colors", runner-up)

“Hanbok”, junior Jasmine Xu (January, “Colors”, runner-up)

Freshman Michelle Wang (November, "Nature", winner)

Freshman Michelle Wang (November, “Nature”, winner)

Photos used with permission of photographers.

But it isn’t merely the prize that motivates members to enter the contest. With Photo Club serving as an enjoyable, stress-free first exposure to photography for many members, including Komma and Wang, the frequent contests allow members to apply what they learn while incorporating their personal touches.

“It gives me more reason to go and explore and expand our photography skills,” Komma said. “When I entered the club as a freshman, I literally didn’t know anything … so [the club]taught me basically everything I knew, and gave me the push to want to do more and learn more.”

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Karen Ma is a junior at Monta Vista High School, as well as a second-year writer and first-year copy editor for El Estoque.