NHS student captures moments

Published 12:03 am Thursday, May 17, 2012

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Angel Brooks, a sophomore at Natchez High School, placed second the first time she entered one of her photos into the state 4-H competition — at 6 years old. Since then, Angel has continued to place and counted nearly 15 first place photo awards she has won in 4-H.

By Mollie Beth Wallace

Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — It takes three different shelves to display all of Angel Brooks’ awards. Brooks, a sophomore at Natchez High School, has a separate row for each of her passions: track and field, Girl Scouts and, last but not least, photography.

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Brooks is a member of the National Beta Club, the National Honor Society, the Student Council, the Biology and Ecology club and the track and field team. In addition to her school activities, Brooks is a Girl Scout and a member of the 4-H club.

With a knack for managing her time, this zealous photographer juggles her talents, often making her club activities the subjects of her photos.

Brooks displayed a natural talent for photography when she took her first picture at the age of 6.

Titled “Petting Albino,” she entered the photo of her cousin sitting atop an Albino horse in a 4-H contest and won second place.

“I was just walking, and I saw my cousin sitting on the horse and decided to snap a picture,” Brooks said.

But don’t let her whimsical attitude fool you; Brooks knows how to use a camera to get that perfect shot.

As a member of the 4-H club, Brooks usually submits photos to club-sponsored contests each month. With 10 years of experience under her belt, her awards are too numerous to count.

She said she enjoys observing the world around her and capturing subjects in their natural environments. Instead of planning out her photo shoots, Brooks prefers to look to her environment for spontaneous inspiration.

“I just go out wandering,” Brooks said. “You always take your camera with you. It could come in handy sometime.”

Remembering a trip to the swamps of Breaux Bridge, La., Brooks told about her adventure photographing alligators from a boat with her Girl Scout troop.

“I was the only one standing up taking pictures, everyone else was panicking,” she said.

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Brooks’ favorite subject to photograph is animals.

Her photo “Gator Hide and Seek,” which won first place at the state level, and fifth place at the Mid-South Fair, shows an alligator submerged in the swamp water.

“At first I didn’t know what it was,” she said. “Then it came up and showed its eyes. That’s when I snapped the picture.”

As her pictures reveal, Brooks is enamored with animals. She enjoys riding her horses Popcorn and Sassy in her uncle’s pasture.

Sassy got her name honest. “When you try to call her, it’s kind of like she’s getting smart,” Brooks said. “She won’t come the first time you call her.”

Brooks tries to capture each animal’s personality in her pictures.

“Let Me Out Pu-u-h-lease!” was taken at a petting zoo in Breaux Bridge, La., when Brooks was 14 years old.

“They gave us a cup, and we got to feed every animal,” she said. “And this one pulled the cup out of my hand. That’s what made me take a picture of it.”

A special mentor, her mother, Angela Brooks, has nurtured Angel’s raw talent. Angela Brooks is an English teacher at Natchez High School but also finds time to be a professional photographer. Brooks said she has always tagged along with her mother, observing her technique.

Brooks’ busy schedule does not end with the school year. At the end of the month, she will attend the State 4-H Congress at Mississippi State University, an event she said she looks forward to every summer, as she enjoys meeting new people. Then in June, she will move into a dorm at Alcorn State University to attend the Mississippi Transportation Institute for three weeks.

With so many talents, Brooks has an array of options to pursue in the future. Her plan at the moment is to go to college and study sports medicine, a field with which her injuries in track have acquainted her.