Brooks living up to family name
APRIL has been a special month for Randy Brooks.
He celebrated his 45th birthday on the day that West Indies won the men’s and women’s World Twenty20 championships, and a cricket photograph he took in 2015 was chosen as one of the best in the world.
Brooks, younger son of renowned lensman Gordon Brooks, made the final shortlist in the Wisden-MCC Cricket Photograph of the Year competition with a shot of Barbadian twin sisters Kycia and Kyshona Knight celebrating victory in a super over after the third and final Twenty20 international between the West Indies and Pakistan was initially tied at the Grenada National Stadium.
He revealed to SUNSPORT that he first entered the competition two years ago.
The husband and father of a 13-year-old son said rather modestly that a breakthrough photograph depended sometimes on luck and being around for an entire day.
“I believe it [also] all comes down to your creative imagination,” he said. “Sometimes you have to create something when it’s not happening and it calls for patience. Cricket calls for a lot more patience than the other sports.”
The introduction of the Twenty20 as the game’s shortest form has provided greater opportunities stemming from its fast-paced nature, he said.
Sitting behind the desk in his office in which hangs two outstanding photos of Kensington Oval taken in 1993 from on board a helicopter, Brooks let on that a lot of his knowledge was passed on from his father, whose business Brooks LaTouche Photography was set up in the year Randy was born.
“I learnt a lot from him,” he said of his father. “I didn’t go to photography school. I went to the school of Gordon Brooks and Brooks LaTouche Photography. I got first-hand knowledge on the job. I can’t say that I learnt everything that I know. There’s more now that I know than when I started but most of the things that I know, especially with cricket, I learnt from him.”
Randy Brooks talking about the picture of the Knight twins that earned him recognition from Wisden/MCC.
Reminiscing on the past, Brooks said his father had to travel often but his absence did not disrupt the close-knit family connection. Older brother Enrico took his place within the studio, while Randy would eventually travel the world perfecting his craft.
“Growing up we were close but we could have been closer. [Dad’s] job took him around the Caribbean and around the world a lot, which meant he was home less and less but when I called on him he was always there.”
Nonetheless, as he got older they worked together, making the bond between father and son even greater.
With an uncontrollable smile on his face, he mentioned that being the son of a well-known photographer somehow made him a bit of a celebrity at school. He said his father took a photo of him which appeared on the cover of a publication and on seeing it everyone at the school surrounded him. Those were the days when cameras and camera phones were not so ubiquitous.
The move from Gordon Brooks’ son to Randy Brooks the photographer was kind of an instantaneous one.
“I just woke up one day and said, ‘Look, my father is not going to be here all the time, it is time for me to take this more seriously’,” he said.
He also recalled his father making a significant comment that hinted at the transition.
“‘Randy, I realise something,’” dad had said, ‘when we started together I had to wake you up on mornings to get ready; now you are waking me up’.”
Gordon Brooks retired a little while after.
However, moving into the industry as an independent was a natural step, as Randy not only shot photos for the NATION but as the official photographer for the West Indies Cricket Board and later the Caribbean Premier League.
That independence has also landed him quality friendships with some of the legends of the game, including Sir Wes Hall and Sir Everton Weekes.
The very walls of the Brooks LaTouche photo studio breathe history, adorned as they are with pictures of other cricket greats such as Desmond Haynes, Brian Lara, Courtney Walsh, and Curtly Ambrose.
“A lot of them recognised me because I am Gordon Brooks’ son and I would have worked with them before, so the ball is almost instant. With the current crop of players, the respect is there also because they see me all the time,” Brooks said.
Spanning both eras of film and digital, he referred to digital as a godsend, as a cameraman can take as many pictures as he likes and still concentrate on the game.
He added that even the editing process was faster with a number of other benefits.
“With film that meant you had to walk around with something called a darkroom kit. It was basically a bag and you would have a case with chemicals because everything was wet. You’re shooting film, so you’re trying not to shoot too many rolls. You’re concentrating on the game a lot more and you’re shooting less. You process that film and you dry that film, scan it and send the photographs electronically.”
Brooks revealed his love for photography extended beyond cricket, and also involved landscapes, seascapes and abstract.
His son is also keen on photography, but Brooks said he was encouraging him to remain focused on school.
“He loves the camera but he is more into athletics. Boys are very easily distracted, I know that from my own experience. He could be distracted with the camera [when he may have] to take interest in school. Following in my footsteps is good. It would be great to have a third generation,” Brooks said with an ear-to-ear smile.
Who knows; maybe there will be a third generation but until then Brooks will just keep doing what he does best, bring images to life.