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Picture perfect

NSPA Photojournalist of the Year entry


Unlike many other entrants, I was not born with a camera clutched by my hands, nor have I received any extensive training on the techniques and nuances of photography. Instead, my experience

 this past year as a new photographer was one of discomfort, growth and eventually passion...


My photos

Adam Paulson

Caption: Farewell, Mr. Paulson! Good-byes are in order as Principal Adam Paulson announces his resignation at the end of this school year. Paulson said, “I want to make sure that the school remains in a good place.”

Explanation: I really liked the way the light lit up one side of Paulson’s face while leaving the other side in shadow because it represents the ups and downs of his time at Paly. The image itself is also jarring because it is so close up.


Coexisting with COVID-19

Caption: A Trader Joe's employee sanitizes shopping carts in the rain while customers wait to be admitted into the grocery store. Restaurants around the nation are empty, and shelves of lifestyle essentials and food have been sold out in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Representative Anna Eschoo said, “Our lives are changing from hour to hour but the way we’re going to come through this is by standing together.”

Explanation: Although it has become normal by now, this picture captured how dystopian the world seemed to become with the implementation of social distancing and mask rules. After taking pictures of hospitals and closed areas, I found that sometimes the changes made in familiar places are the most brutal reminders of tragedy.

The system has failed

Caption: A student demonstrator raises his middle finger in protest of police brutality. Following the death of George Floyd in police custody, swaths of students took to the streets to demand reform in law enforcement and the criminal justice system. This protest was one of many nationwide as outrage grows over police misconduct toward African Americans.

Explanation: This picture is special because it displays the anger felt by protesters at the failure of policing and the criminal justice system. I took around a thousand photos and probably ran over seven miles covering this protest, but this picture stood out because it focused on the anger of one person. 


Graduation parade

Caption: Graduating seniors wave at teachers during the graduation parade. With the COVID-19 pandemic preventing an in-person graduation, the Class of 2020 celebrated the end of their time at high school with a car parade. Cheered on by teachers and community members, seniors donned graduation gowns and decorated their cars with school colors and Black Lives Matter slogans.

Explanation: Decoration levels of various cars varied widely over the course of the parade, and this was one of the few shots where all cars in sight were adorned with green and white Paly colors. Additionally, I love the expression on the lead student’s face as she thanks her cheering teachers.

Police presence

Caption: A police officer stops traffic ahead of a crowd of demonstrators. Thousands of residents of Palo Alto and neighboring cities attended a rally at Palo Alto City Hall in response to recent instances of police brutality. The student-led protest called for an end to unequal policing, a reduction in the budget of the PAPD and the prosecution of police officers involved in the killings of Breonna Taylor and other people of color.

Explanation: I wanted to get a picture that illustrated the police presence at the march. This one stood out to me because the officer is the focal point of the picture, but the background is full of demonstrators marching not only in support of Black Lives Matter, but also in opposition to the police. I found this framing to be an interesting juxtaposition of the two groups taken from an unconventional angle.

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