The caliber of photos we received in this year’s “California Through My Eyes” contest was pretty amazing. Our judges had no small task in trying to select our winner and runners-up, all of whom received a cash prize. In addition, the judges helped select about 60 photos to be named for honorable mention. The final results (showcased below) are pretty incredible and illustrate the diversity and wonder of the state of California! You can also see all of these photos on display at the State Capitol building, starting June 20. They’ll be located on the third floor of the annex.
Hundreds of student photographers participated from 54 high school around the state, submitting not only their photo but an essay describing how their photo represents California. We want to thank the schools, districts and legislative offices that helped spread the word about the contest, which we hope allows students to exercise their creativity while thinking critically about what California means to them.
GRAND PRIZE WINNER ($150)
Emely was selected as the grand prize winner for her photo, Lost in Thought, a portrait of her grandfather sitting at his home. As she notes, her grandparents “made themselves a part of California when they arrived in the early 70’s. They had to support their 8 children together so they made a living as strawberry pickers, working as a mechanic and being a housemaid…My generation will never understand what it is like to struggle – we get things handed down to us instead of earning it. This is California through my eyes.”
RUNNERS – UP ($100), in alphabetical order
Chaoyao’s photo is a wonderful representation of San Francisco, and the essay perfectly complements the photo, describing the city as unique with a “profound history, a large number of scenic spots…fantastic beaches and sunshine, and enthusiastic people.”
Julianna’s photo vibrantly depicts the Tower Bridge in Sacramento. She chose to photograph this bridge because it “provides people with access to being able to go boating, fishing, kayaking as well as running, walking and cycling. These activities and locations in Sacramento are what brings so many people from across the globe to this incredible state of ours.”
In this photo, Sydney photographed a man who is the embodiment of the right to self-expression and the pursuit of happiness. When asked why he was dressed the way he was, he replied, “This is who I am on the inside and out. This is just who I am.” Sydney took this picture to show that “no matter what style, sexuality or ethnicity, you are free to express yourself and pursue your own happiness.”
Tyler was out walking around San Francisco when he saw “a shimmer of light from a hole in the wall.” He walked over and captured this scene, which he describes as “a reminder that beauty isn’t just in the Sierras, around Mount Shasta, or on the beaches of Los Angeles. Sometimes, it is just visible from a hole in an old wall.”
This photo was taken of the Santa Monica Pier at night. But Elani didn’t want to just capture the typical photo of this famed trademark. She went out into the water in order to “see the entirety of the pier with all the lights functioning with one another.” This photo represents the Golden State because “the light flows together in unity, yet each has its own direction, just like people do in California.”