The first time Adriana Torres-Juan looked through the viewfinder and clicked the shutter, she knew she was going to get hooked on photography.
"From then on, I always wanted to take pictures," said Torres-Juan, a fifth-grader at FishHawk Creek Elementary School.
Although fascinated by the ability to capture images using a Nikon Coolpix digital camera, Torres-Juan wasn't sure she had a talent for photography.
That's why she was so thrilled to learn she had received a first place in photography in the countywide Reflections contest, sponsored by the Hillsborough County PTA/PTSA.
Reflections was founded in 1969 to encourage students to explore their talents and express themselves.
Students age pre-kindergarten to 12th grade submit artistic works in the categories of dance choreography, film production, literature, musical composition, photography and the visual arts.
Works are first judged by the PTAs at the student's school. The winning entries than advance to the Hillsborough County PTA/PTSA.
A lucky few have their entries move on state competition in April and national competition in June.
This year's Reflections theme was "The Magic of a Moment," which was well-represented in Torres-Juan's winning photograph.
"I went to this nature preserve with my mom and little brother," she said. "I wanted to take photos of sandhill cranes. But then I saw my brother (Rolando, a first-grader at FishHawk Creek) skipping in a puddle."
Torres-Juan said she knew it was an image she just had to capture.
"He just looked so happy," she said.
She successfully captured that innocent moment of delight, titling the resulting photo, "Splashes of Joy."
Still, the fifth-grader wasn't sure how her photograph would be received by a panel of experienced judges. She said she attended the countywide Reflections Reception Jan. 13 at Gaither High School convinced that she'd walk away empty handed.
"I really didn't think I would win," she said. "I was so surprised when they announced my name."
With that validation of her talent, Torres-Juan said she's considering a career in photography -- among other options.
Noting that this year's Reflections contest attracted a record 1,000 student entries, Bridgitte Kramer, president of the Hillsborough County PTA/PTSA, said she was impressed by the quality of the students' artwork this year.
"All the work is amazing," she said. "I am honored to be in Hillsborough County among all this talent."
Torres-Juan wasn't the only local student to leave the reception a winner.
Other winners included:
Kassidy Bevel of Bloomingdale High School--first place in the high school division
Mallory Hillary of Bloomingdale High--second place in the high school division
Katie Hall of Bloomingdale High--third place in the high school division
Celine Wright of Nelson Elementary School--first place in the intermediate division
Norah Christensen of Stowers Elementary School--first place in the primary division
Cameron Valdez of Lithia Springs Elementary School--Judges Choice in the intermediate division
Doi Kim of Newsome High School--Judges Choice in the high school division
Jack Suchore of Bevis Elementary School-- honorable mention in the primary division
Ariel Burcham of Cimino Elementary School--third place in the primary division
Zade Ksaibati of Nelson Elementary School--third place in the intermediate division
Kasey Murphy of Randall Middle School--honorable mention in the middle school special artist division
Zachary Foyt of Randall Middle School--third place in the middle school special artist division
Austin Huffman of Randall Middle School--first place in the middle school special artist division
Mark D'Angelo of Newsome High School--judges choice in the high school division
Kristina Carreras of Bloomingdale High--second place in the high school division
Caitlyn Hine of Bloomingdale High--first place in the high school division.