FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER: David Brooks
By John Gregory
David Brooks is a naturally talented photojournalist. Incredibly, he didn’t pursue his passion for photography until he was about 26.
“I didn’t know it could be a career. … I didn’t know that was possible,” Brooks said. “My dad always told me, ‘Photography is a hobby. You can’t make a living taking pictures.’”
His interest in photography began during a photo class in high school. Still, he didn’t consider a career in photography until he found himself working at a photo lab in his mid-twenties when he was inspired by a photo display the company was involved with. Brooks decided to pursue a photo education at Brooks Institute of Photography in Ventura, which coincidentally shared his last name.
Besides photography, he studied videography. Brooks worked at a couple of photo internships – one with the Union-Tribune. The paper eventually hired him as a videographer and photographer.
Brooks left the Union-Tribune after 12 years to take a position with the San Diego Community College District, where he remains. But he still looks at his newspaper experiences fondly.
“One of the most exciting parts of working in the news is seeing the event, but also seeing behind the scenes,” he said.
He described one emotional assignment that impacted him the most. He spent several days at Freedom Station which houses combat veterans transitioning out of the military. One Marine, age 22, had lost both arms and legs in combat. Eventually, Brooks was allowed to photograph the young man as he ventured out for his first steps during his recovery outside the gates to a coffee shop.
“One of the greatest skills a photographer can have is learning how to navigate sensitive situations,” Brooks said. “I don’t think I would have gotten that photo if I wouldn’t have spent time there – letting them know I’m just trying to tell your story.”