Chasity Brooks was named the 2023 Pensacola State College Sunset Photography Contest winner during a short ceremony at Jaco’s Bayfront Bar & Grille on March 1.
A grandmother and PSC photography student, Brooks was one of five students whose work was featured throughout February at the popular Downtown Pensacola restaurant located at the southern tip of Palafox Street.
The students produced 13 stunning sunset photographs taken near the restaurant overlooking Pensacola Bay that were exhibited throughout the restaurant. Restaurant patrons and online voters chose Brooks’ “Five O’clock Somewhere” photo that featured a wine glass and sunset.
Brooks’ photo of a sunset reflected in a car mirror, “Looking Back,’’ finished second.
Jaco’s owner Dave Hambrick said the photographs were some of the best since his restaurant began hosting the Sunset Photography Contest in 2014.
“This is by far the best 13 photographs we’ve had,’’ Hambrick said. “I think they were the best across the board.”
PSC Photography Professor Kristen Regan approached Brooks moments after the results were announced.
“Your task now is to fill this space with images next month,’’ Regan said of the Jaco’s locale.
Brooks was introduced to photography as a child by her grandmother.
“My grandmother had me in a dark room at a very young age,’’ she recalled.
Today, Brooks is a married mother, and operates a welding and sheet metal business with her husband. She also works as a commercial photographer performing commission jobs.
She said she used photography as “therapy” while helping her mother battle Alzheimer’s disease.
“Coming back to college to study the arts was my therapy,’’ Brooks shared. “It just helps me stay creative, even though it’s been harder coming back to College when I’m older. My creative ability isn’t what it used to be. It’s been challenging, but I’ve worked hard and put a lot into it.”
Pensacola State students ─ Amy Athans, Ralitsa Mihaylova Enrique Viveros and Dani Thomaston – works also were in the photography contest.
Jaco’s also presented the College’s Photography Department with a $2,500 that will go to future student scholarship awards. Since 2014, the restaurant has donated more than $14,000 to support PSC photography students.
“We’re just so grateful for their tremendous support over the years,’’ Regan said. “Jaco’s has been phenomenal in what they have done for our students and the opportunities they have provided.”