During the past several months, My Edmonds News readers have become familiar with the photography of Bryan Briscoe. In particular, his scenic shots of Edmonds — from seagulls to ferries to mountains to bald eagles in flight — are breathtaking. His photo of a blue heron at Edmonds Marsh is featured on the My Edmonds News Facebook page.
I’m sad to report that Bryan died last week, at the age of 49.
How Bryan came to be a My Edmond News photographer started with an email I received last October from his daughter, Lindsey, a 2011 Edmonds-Woodway High School grad, who at the time was in her freshman year at Willamette University.
“I was feeling a little homesick last week, and so my dad (back home in Edmonds) sent me a tube full of beautiful pictures from the Edmonds beach, the dog park, etc.,” Lindsey wrote. “I was wondering if you were possibly interested in some of his pictures, for your newspaper? I’d love to get you in contact with him. He lost his job… and I know he’s trying to sell some of his pictures. He really does do beautiful work…”
I emailed Bryan and he sent me a link to his website. The photos were, in a word, stunning. I said that I didn’t have a very big budget but I’d like to use him for occasional freelance assignments if he was interested.
“Well, I have never photographed anything for ‘assignments” before,’ he replied. “I just shoot what I see. As long as you are aware of that, I am interested in giving it a try!”
We met at Walnut Street for coffee, and he told me that he had been laid off from his commercial real estate job, and so far had had no luck finding another position. But he was upbeat and smiling, and agreed to take on some freelance work as opportunities came up.
In addition to working “on assignment,” covering everything from the high school craft fair to a ribbon cutting at the Edmonds Senior Center, Bryan would send me the scenic photos that were his passion: wildlife and ferries and mountains and full moons and glorious sunsets. I couldn’t use them all — but I used many of them. And in the back of my mind, I was always thinking that there should be a way for him to sell the photos and make some additional money. So I proposed that he sell prints of what he considered to be his best work via My Edmonds News, and he began talking with Dale Sutton of Edmonds’ Magic Photo to set up a link where his photos could be ordered, printed and sold.
In early July, he gave me a status report via email. Dale would be out of town for the next two weeks, but the two of them would get back together to discuss next steps during the third week in July. “If I don’t talk with you, have a fun and safe 4th,” he wrote.
On July 11, Bryan emailed me photos of construction going on behind his house. “They are clearing it for a 10-house subdivision,” he said. “The ONLY trees they are leaving are 8 Firs right on my property/fence line. There goes the neighborhood, in the name of progress?”
I thought about using those photos but decided to ask instead if he could send me new ones once more work had been done — to show a clearer contrast between before and after. I never got a response.
On the morning of July 13, I received a message from Lily Jaquith, a Western Washington University student who is interning for me this summer. I’ve known Lily since she was an EWHS senior and started writing a column for me. I had been delighted earlier this summer when Lily asked if she could do a college internship, and I was equally pleased to learn that she and Lindsey Briscoe — Bryan’s daughter — were close friends!
I called Lily back, assuming that she was touching base about a story assignment she was working on. “Lindsey asked me to call you,” Lily began. “She wanted me to tell you that Bryan took his own life last night.”
I was shocked. “Please let me know if there’s anything I can do,” I said. For the rest of the day, I thought about what a horrible loss it was. I also thought about the positive comments I’d received about Bryan’s photos, and I knew I had to tell My Edmonds News readers about Bryan’s death.
On Friday, July 20 — at Lindsey’s invitation — I attended Bryan’s memorial service at Sunset Hill Cemetery in Bellevue. The chapel was packed with people, and the parking lot overflowed with cars. A group of Bryan’s friends from childhood and college — now all middle-aged men — choked back tears as they talked about Bryan’s sense of humor, his love of Led Zeppelin music and most important, what an amazing friend he was. They also talked about his commitment to being a good father and his love of dogs, and it reminded me that Bryan often took scenic photos from one of his favorite places — the Edmonds off-leash dog park — with his own dogs in tow.
Then Bryan’s two young adult children — Lindsey and Bryan — spoke. Referring to her dad as her best friend, Lindsey grieved for the future events she would not be able to share with him — from graduating from college to getting her first job to walking down the aisle at her wedding. “I love you and will remember you for the amazing man, son, uncle, brother, friend and father that you were and will continue to be in my heart,” she said.
The officiant at the memorial service, the Rev. Christina Jillard, addressed what many at the service were thinking: “Why?”
“We grieve a death that came too soon,” she said, “so where do we start? What do we say when our hearts are breaking? We are left with so many questions about what happened to Bryan. We would like to know more. But the truth is, while speculation and theories will abound, we will never know why. Why he didn’t ask for the help that we now know he needed? And in the midst of sorrow, no one here will ever know what was going on in Bryan’s heart and soul.”
She quoted from the The Book of Ecclesiastes, calling the words “honest — even matter of fact in describing the full range of conditions and emotions that we as humans experience: For everything there is a season, from joy at birth to desolation at death, from time for dancing to time for weeping.”
After the service, I had a chance to thank Lindsey for connecting me with her father, and giving me an opportunity — however short — to work with him and share his beautiful photos with others. Soon, I will create a Pinterest page of Bryan’s work, and will post a link to it for all to enjoy.
And here is Bryan’s official obituary:
Bryan Lowry Briscoe of Edmonds passed away unexpectedly on July 12, 2012 at the age of 49. He was born in Seattle on Oct. 16, 1962 to DeWayne Briscoe and Patricia Lowry Briscoe, grew up in Medina, attended Lakeside School. Bryan attended University of San Diego and earned his degree at University of Southern California. Bryan worked in real estate property management for many years and was turning his gift for photography into a second career. Bryan is remembered as a loving son, husband, and father and will be greatly missed. Bryan had many friends and touched all with his kindness, humor, and care. Bryan is survived by his parents and his step-father Jay Rusling, his wife Jennifer Briscoe, son Bryan Briscoe, daughter, Lindsey Briscoe and step-daughter Renee White. He is preceded in death by his brother, Kevin Briscoe.
— Teresa Wippel, publisher
My Edmonds News