It was, Angela Cichosz says, kind of like love at first sight.
She was wandering around the Volo Mercantile Mall several months ago when she spotted it for the first time -- a large, blown-glass paperweight. Truth be told, it was probably a little too big. It was definitely a little too expensive. But it caught her eye and she couldn't ignore it -- and she just had to have it.
And so Cichosz brought it home and did what anybody would do with a big, expensive, blown-glass paperweight: she carefully placed it on her dresser and pretty much forgot about it.
Then, one day, she was looking for a little photographic inspiration. A full-time student at Elmhurst College, the Carol Stream woman recently took a job as director of operations for an Internet company called JunoWallet, and the combination of work and school has limited the amount of time she can devote to her photography.
But on this day she had a few minutes and was looking for ideas, and the paperweight caught her eye -- much as it had done back in Volo -- and she pulled out her trusty camera and used a macro lens to capture the image in green. That photo won first place in our December Photo Finish contest.
This is hardly a first for Cichosz. She's a regular contributor to our contest and many of her entries feature slightly offbeat looks at conventional subjects.
"I like the abstract nature of certain things," says Cichosz, who's a psychology major at Elmhurst, with minors in English and religious studies. "I try to go for something a little unusual."
DuPage Photo Director Scott Sanders says her efforts paid off this time around.
"I like it because the photographer turned a simple object into a colorful and graphically interesting photo using macro photography," Sanders said.
For her efforts, Cichosz wins a $50 gift certificate from PJ's Camera, 662 Roosevelt Road, Glen Ellyn.
That's a pleasant way to start the new year for someone who says she'd love to incorporate photography into her professional life when she graduates this spring.
Cichosz traces her interest in photography to May 16, 2007, the day she got her first camera. She took her first picture the next day.
Unfortunately, she was new to digital photography and didn't realize she needed a memory card.
She's become quite a bit more proficient since then.
"Buying a camera, like much of what I do, was an impulse thing," she says, "but it's something I stuck with."