Photographic passions


Prakriti Adhikari

Instructor of Photography Lily Brooks teaches photography to Tiranee Moody, a junior art major. Brooks started teaching at the university in 2015.

Prakriti Adhikari, Staff Reporter

Instructor of Photography Lily Brooks started teaching at the university in fall 2015.

Brooks shared how she was exposed to photography as a child.

“I was so privileged to be in close proximity to people and places where I could see artwork firsthand,” said Brooks. “My mother studied photography. She went to a commercial photography school where she learned to photograph products, a traditional, old school thing. She never really practiced, but she went to school. So, she had cameras, and she made pictures of us when we were kids, and I was always interested in cameras.”

Brooks slowly got into the field of photography as she started working as an assistant for professional photographers.

“When I was in college, I started working for photographers as an assistant,” said Brooks. “I worked for a wedding photographer for many years. I worked for commercial photographers, editorial photographers, assignment photographers, and I worked as a studio manager after college for a fine artist.”

Brooks initially studied illustrations at Syracuse University in New York. However, she received her undergraduate degree in fine arts from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and later completed her master’s in fine arts from the University of Texas at Austin.

Brooks works in a research-based practice where she explores different techniques.

“Generally, I am interested in our relationship with the natural world and the ways that we mitigate the relationship,” said Brooks.

Currently, Brooks works on a project where she studies the relationship of human beings with weather and climate. She shared how she got inspired for her work when it started seven years ago.

“I went to graduate school in Texas,” said Brooks. “When I moved there, it was during very drastic drought and heat waves. So, the only thing I could think of was how hot it was, and I was always complaining about how uncomfortable I was, being from New England. Meanwhile, there was this catastrophe going on including the wild fire caused due to drought and ranchers selling off their cattle. So, I became interested in this kind of dual relationship with weather and climate that we have.”

According to Brooks, photography is both easy and hard at the same time. She cited the essay “Photography is Easy, Photography is Difficult” by artist Paul Graham.

“He said it’s so easy because it’s everywhere,” said Brooks. “All you have to do is click, click, click, but he also said it is so hard because it is everywhere, and all you have to do is click, click, click. So, all you have to do is you have to have a voice, and you have to figure out what the voice is. You have to sort through all of the options that are in front of you and make a selection and make a sequence that creates a meaning from the world that exists in front of the camera.”

According to Brooks, there is an “endless appetite for moving and still images in our culture” because the world is full of photographs.

Keleigh Pickett, a senior art major, has been taking classes with Brooks for three years now. Brooks was the first instructor to teach her photography.

“Lily has been my photography instructor for three years now,” said Pickett. “I had never taken photography before, so she was the first one to teach me. I’ve learned more from her than I think I could have ever learned from anyone else. She taught me to truly see.”

Brooks’ passion inspired Kade Morales, a senior art major, to study photography.

“Her commitment to our department has been tremendously beneficial to our photography lab,” said Morales. “Before Lily came to Southeastern, the photo lab didn’t have any of the equipment and high quality printers that we have now. Her dedication to building a better work space for us has made our lab feel more like home and has created a much more efficient and productive art making environment.”