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First Place:
L.A. Photo Curator: International Photography Awards - 'Where Photography & Philanthropy Meet' First Place: (click on image for larger view)
UNREQUITED by Rebecca Weston
First Place
(click on image for larger view)

Curator Barb Peacock: "The classic theme of Love is prevalent in all corners of the world and found in every Hometown. This photographer displays deft abilities and a clever eye by capturing this poetic, poignant allegory of youth and unrequited love. She is a skilled storyteller with lightning fast reflexes in order to perfectly compose and juxtapose these moving subjects while creating a complex frame. Young lovers embrace in the background while a wistful young teen laments in the foreground. She has strategically positioned and cropped him right above his eyes so we are drawn directly to him and his forlorn expression. His blonde shaggy hair surrounds his beauty and heart breaking innocence epitomizing the transitory spirit, self-absorption and melancholy of youth that will soon segue into adulthood."

Curator Barb Peacock: "What is your process when you go out to shoot?  

Rebecca Weston: "When I go out to shoot, it takes me a bit of time to “drop into” a psychological space that is open, receptive, calm and vigilant, all at the same time.  Even when I am working on a given project, I rarely go out looking for a specific shot — instead, I find myself stirred in some way by a moment of human interaction.  When that happens, I tend to “work” the scene as much as possible — shooting from different angles, different perspectives."

Curator Barb Peacock: "What are the thoughts that go through your mind and what are you looking for? "

Rebecca Weston: "I tend to be a fairly psychologically oriented photographer; I tend to be drawn to more subtle human interactions, less overtly dramatic.  I often notice those moments “in between,” or in the pauses — perhaps because they offer more opportunities for ambiguity or greater reflection.  I also care a great deal about composition — it is part of what makes a story move from being merely anecdotal to more lasting and universal."

Curator Barb Peacock: "Do these photos belong to a larger body of work?  

Rebecca Weston: "Yes.  This belongs to a much larger series-in-progress about a local and very historic Dairy Queen located in a central spot in my hometown of Missoula, Montana.  This Dairy Queen has been open for over 50 years and has been owned by the same husband/wife team for the entire time.  Over the years, this Diary Queen has been open through vastly different historical periods in a very progressive, but somewhat isolated university town in Montana.   This team has employed several generations of young women — including the parents of some of the young women who currently work there.  It carries a lot of town history."
 
Curator Adam Finkelston: "The first thing I thought of when I saw this image was the last image in Tod Papageorge's book on Central Park, in which a man and woman kiss up against a tree, while another woman waits on the other side of the tree; aloof, detached, waiting.

The narrative is strong because of the uncertainty in what's actually happening. This image has a similar uncertainty.

Is the figure on the left accidentally intruding? Is he shocked? Is the embrace in the background meant for him, as a malicious rebuff?

The second thing I thought of is my students. I teach at a high school and I often hear about the trials and tribulations of young hearts. I can hear my students gossiping about it in hushed tones in the back of the room."

Adam Finkelston Owner, Publisher, Co-editor, The Hand Magazine
thehandmagazine.net www.adamfinkelstonphotography.com

Curator Susan Spiritus: "Neither of the subjects in this photo by Rebecca Weston seem to be aware of each other, nor do they care as they are wrapped up in themselves, as many young adults and teens are.

Although we cannot see or determine, I see the single teen as one who is just passing by on his skateboard....having slid by and weaved around the couple in the embrace, but not taking much notice, nor caring. He's not of the age to care or notice. He's young, and just out 'on the street' for some fun.

The photographer just happened to catch his gaze - with closed eyes, I think not as an act of turning away, but perhaps just a function a blink that was captured. Clearly, the photographer was at the right place at that right instant of time!

Susan Spiritus
www.susanspiritusgallery.com

Curator Jane Szabo: "The framing and composition of Rebecca Weston's image "Unrequited" clearly place this photograph in the winners circle! Though the couple embracing could be the focal point of this image, they are grainy and in the background, and hence diminished in their importance.

The focal point is the lone subject in the foreground - the tight cropping draws you right into his face and his eyes, which are cast downward, and almost closed. He is shut off from us - as he is also removed from the distant loving embrace.

This is a unique image with a strong tension between the foreground and background characters. What a lovely capture - street photography caught in the decisive moment!"

Jane Szabo
www.janeszabophotography.com

Curator Steve Grody: "A number of things stand out in this photograph… the lovely range of tones, strong compositional unity (strong diagonal from the kid’s hair all the way down his arm, that line forming a strong alignment with the roof in the background; the small triangular roof form about the loving couple; the vertical of the couple as an anchoring balance against the kid’s form) and all, as it should be, in service of an intriguing open narrative of a very human moment.

Steve Grody
Learn more about Steve's book, Graffiti L.A. at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tfzxm_J7T_E

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Rebecca Weston says, "By training and by profession, I am a psychotherapist who focuses on interpersonal trauma.  I have always been interested in photography as a visual extension of my interest in people and how they interact in their world.  As a child, my father’s photography functioned as our family diary – and was for me a continual source for validation, renewal and questioning.
 
I have been shooting seriously for about two years and have had one show, in Stockholm, Sweden (entitled, “Street Photography Al – Andalus 2014 – 2015”).  I have recently taken my first photography workshop (storytelling through street photography), but otherwise have taught myself and benefitted substantially from various on-line critique communities.  I have only this year begun to enter photography competitions and submit work for local or national shows. 
 
Having first deepened my experience with photography while living abroad and through extensive and sometimes exotic travel, the goal of my current work is to discover the new, the story, the human experience that is much closer to home.  Initially uncertain how to “see” what was familiar or how to feel what seemed static, I deliberately explored the social space offered and created by a historic and centrally located Dairy Queen in Missoula, my hometown.   
 
When I am shooting, my relationship to people is not about dialogue or intervention, but about creating a frame of seeing and allowing the moment to be what it is.  As much about the process as about the shot, photography allows me to appreciate quickly, let go swiftly, and remain marginal — precisely the opposite of a good psychotherapeutic connection.  I usually use black and white in order to distill the essence of interactions.  
 
While this remains a more extensive work in progress, I have already found that this project not only helps me connect to my own community, but also helps the community see itself.  Over and over, customers and employees of the Dairy Queen ask to see themselves as I picture them, offer their own experiences, and provide historical context for this town’s unique Dairy Queen.   In my picturing and in their seeing, we all share joy in recognizing that within our “hometown,” we are all both very unique and at the same time, part of a larger and shared human experience."

www.flickr.com/photos/rebeccaweston

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