Off-Ramp

A weekly look at Southern California life covering news, arts and culture, and more. Hosted by John Rabe

This month's Instagram contest winner is the first from LA

by Maya Sugarman | Off-Ramp

A girl rides a swing at the Santa Monica Pier during Glow, a night festival featuring art installations on the pier. Taiyo Watanabe (@mello_yello)'s picture won our Fleeting Glance Instagram contest. Taiyo Watanabe

If it weren't for Instagram, Taiyo Watanabe of Silverlake might not be a photographer. Nor would he have a more than 2,100-image body of work.

"Before Instagram I didn't really take that many pictures, it's definitely affected how I shoot," explains Watanabe, known as @mello_yello. "It's become more like my journal."

Watanabe won our most recent challenge with Instagram Lovers Anonymous, with his surreal image of a silohuetted girl on a swing backlit by the crowded Santa Monica Pier on a hazy evening. The picture was taken during Glow, an annual night festival at the pier.

The contest theme, Fleeting Glance, challenged Instagrammers to capture a decisive, split-second moment when the perfect combination of light, action or facial expression creates a story-telling image.

Watanabe took the winning image with his Olympus E-P1, which he takes with him everywhere. He also uses his iPhone and Cannon 5D for many of his Instagram photos.

In three months of challenges, Taiyo Watanabe is our first local contest winner. He grew up in Los Angeles, and was born blocks away from his Silverlake workplace, Deegan-Day Design LLC.

Much of the architectural designer's Instagram feed plays with composition, color and dimensionality. Watanabe says the other designers he follows inspire his photography work. 

"I like the exploration of space, and how people interact within that space," he said.

But Watanabe loves photography most because it is different from architectural design. For him, making pictures is instinctual and in-the-moment.

The next contest will begin at the start of the month. To find out more and to play, just follow @KPCC on Instagram.

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