Bright purple flowers with green stems and leaves are pictured on a dark background and in between the flowers, are two small buzzing, black and yellow insects carrying stingers on one end.
‘Busy Bees’ is the title of 10-year-old Nathan Mowers’ photograph. The 4th Grade Treasure Hills Elementary student won first place with this submission at the 2016 Texas Media Awards. He competed against all other entries in the state of Texas, for grade levels third through fifth in the color photography category.
The Texas Media Awards, part of the Texas Library Association, promotes student excellence in amateur media productions. It encourages students from pre-k to grade 12 to submit artwork to be judged and awarded based on organization, creativity, complexity, and technical quality.
Mowers, who loves nature and photography has been practicing his photography skills for three years. He has been taking photography lessons over the summer at Quinta Mazatlan with photographer Ruth Hoyt.
“She teaches us how to take up-close pictures, wildlife photography and she also teaches us digital art,” says Mowers. “It’s just a summer thing, but sometimes we meet up on the weekends because my big brother goes there or she comes to our house.”
His initial interest in photography began when he saw his older brother taking photography classes.
“He is very much into insects and small things like lizards and being able to see things up close, which is why he took that picture with the bees. He wanted to be involved in photography classes, but he was too young,” says his mother, Jenny Mowers. “Since she already knew his brother, she let him into the summer class, and he just took a liking to it.”
Mowers is constantly looking to learn more about photography and likes to go out and observe wildlife. His teacher sometimes takes her students out to private ranches to practice their nature photography.
“Once we went to a ranch, and we got to see scavengers. There were Black Vultures, Caracaras, and I think there was a dead badger or opossum there on the ground. The vultures feeding on it,” says Mowers. “And we saw a Harris’s Hawk too. I took some pictures of it.”
Mowers has also taken pictures of the Grand Canyon, a bobcat, and a night blooming cactus flower amongst other nature-themed subjects.
While he has won several first place awards in the past, this is the first time he takes the top spot at the state level.
“I am so excited. I don’t think we have ever had a student from Harlingen win first place in the TMA,” says Treasure Hills Elementary Librarian, Sherilyn Durham. “I am really proud of him for representing our district at the state level, and I expect we will see much more award-winning photography from him in the future.”
Mowers hopes to one day become a great photographer. He is currently saving up to buy a Canon camera with a larger lens.
The Texas Media Awards Ceremony will take place in Houston on April 21 where Nathan will receive his first place award.