The subversive charm of 'Santa Claus is Comin' to Town' - Off-Ramp for December 15, 2012

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

Fleeting Glance Winner - 1

Taiyo Watanabe

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.

Fleeting Glance Winner - 2

Taiyo Watanabe

View from inside Michael Heiser's Levitated Mass at LACMA, taken with an iPhone.

Fleeting Glance Winner - 3

Taiyo Watanabe

Coin Laundry Open 24 Hours in Westlake, taken with an iPhone.

Fleeting Glance Winner - 4

Taiyo Watanabe

Design Matters Gallery in West Los Angeles, taken with an iPhone.

Fleeting Glance Winner - 5

Taiyo Watanabe

'Ghetto Bird' in Rampart Village, taken with an Olympus E-P1.

Fleeting Glance Winner - 6

Taiyo Watanabe

'Pop-up Lights' in the Artists District, taken with an Olympus E-P1.

Fleeting Glance Winner - 7

Taiyo Watanabe

House in Topanga Canyon, taken with an iPhone.

Fleeting Glance Winner - 8

Taiyo Watanabe

Michael Heiser's 'Levitated Mass' transport turning at Western and Wilshire in Koreatown, taken with a Canon 5D.

Fleeting Glance Winner - 9

Taiyo Watanabe

'Security Gate' in the Artists District, taken with an iPhone.

Fleeting Glance Winner - 10

Taiyo Watanabe

SCI_Arc in the Artists District, taken with an iPhone.

Fleeting Glance Winner - 11

Taiyo Watanabe

Taiyo Wantanabe's workplace, Deegan Day Design in Silverlake, taken with an iPhone with Hipstamatic.

Fleeting Glance Winner - 12

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Taiyo Watanabe at the Santa Monica Pier, in the place where he took his winning picture, on Dec. 12 after an interview with KPCC.


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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