It’s been nearly four months now since my good friend Brian Suda passed away in May. It’s easy to feel his presence — we were workmates for about 13 years. But his work is ever-present whenever I’m working on this magazine. This is where we met. It started back in 2010. I just gotten back from a long career in Los Angeles.
Our first issue was on Kirk Matthews and I needed a local photographer. It was by happenstance that Brian’s wife, Pamela, was one of the magazine’s early advisors. So naturally, she recommended her husband Brian.
My first communication with Brian was immediately friendly. He was very accommodating, which made it even easier to discuss directions with him. This was his greatest attribute as a professional and as a person: Brian was easygoing. Easily, friendship became the foundation of our relationship. We took it to heart; maintaining integrity of our work creatively with respect to each other’s craft. Always conscious of our own limitations, we often relied on each other to complete the visual goal. No matter the mundaneness of the subject or the parameters we had to work within, Brian always explored ways to elevate it to another level, even at his own expense — he was very talented and he was a perfectionist — which I’ve always admired. His easygoing attitude was also a plus for everyone working with him.
The process of a photoshoot always has a level of stress. Brian hardly showed it, but he could be a little bit of a worrywart — as he admitted to me one day. We knew we could never control every aspect of a photoshoot, and when certain wrenches get thrown in the mix, Brian always had a plan “B” and then would say “Let’s just have fun.” And that just sums it up on how we mainly rolled.
Of course, afterwards, we’d always revel over a few cocktails, his choices being as carefully planned as a connoisseur’s. “We did it again!,” we’d say with a good laugh. We like patting ourselves on the back. That’s what friends are for: To give each other kudos for even making it out alive. We’d laugh at the unnoticed mishaps. And Brian was always out for a good laugh. I could tell him the sorriest story or joke and I’d get a good belly-chuckle. There are so many wonderful stories I could tell.
In our profession, the joys we find are in the process — the camaraderie, the cheers over a beer. That’s what it’s all about. We love what we do. And we love the people we do it with. Through heartache and laughter, and rolling with the punches, we survive. That’s what we all do. Then, afterwards, we take it to the bar to swap stories — and give each other a round of pats on the back saying, “Good job, buddy. You’ve done well.” I miss you already, Brian. You’ve been an awesome photographer, colleague and friend.