The Brian Fraser Tribute
The night of October 1st, 2017 was a night I know myself and thousands of others will never forget. The night that the Route 91 attack happened I was a puddle of tears in complete disbelief that evil could touch so close to the people I love. The world no longer felt special to me, it just felt scary. The night after I got the news that Brian Fraser, a father in my town’s life had been taken I remember praying and feeling so hopeless, just wanting to help. This family lives a short 2 minutes away from my family. Brian was a man of God and a beloved son. A husband. He was a father to so many, not just his own children. I couldn't wrap my mind around it. I sat and prayed for understanding. I knew my prayers were one of millions that week in our country.
At that moment I had less than 50 dollars in my bank account but I knew I had a camera, 2 hands and time. That’s what I was going to give. Before this idea came up I hadn’t touched my camera for over four months. To be completely honest, I was ready to give up photography entirely. I didn’t think I was talented enough. This is where the understanding started to come through- this wasn’t about shortcomings. This was about giving. This is what we are truly built for. Throughout this process, I learned that we can’t control life or the world around us but we can control how things are handled when trials and tragedies come knocking on our doors. On our neighbors doors. We CAN control how much love we give to the people around us who need it. The next few months I got to work with amazing families from our town and beyond who booked family portraits in exchange for donations for this family. These sessions were more than just lining people up with perfect hair and makeup and taking photos. It was a grand gesture from one family to another. These photos weren't just photos, they were a gesture of sympathy and peace.
A few short months later when Vanessa and Nick, Brian's daughter in law and son announced she was pregnant with her miracle baby and she asked me to take her maternity photos and the first set of family photos without Brian I knew that I owed it to Brian and God to pour all the love I could into this project. To include Brian in them, because he was there that whole day and he is with them every single day and no one could ever take that away from them.
Beautiful baby Brynn Soleil Fraser Arellano was born on July 8th at 9:38 pm at a beautiful 8 pounds, 8 ounces and 21 inches. Vanessa was in labor for exactly 58 minutes. A beautiful, breathtaking, unmistakeable tribute to the 58 lives taken that day.
Here’s the thing, we all have free will. I think regardless of what you believe we can all agree that we all have the power to choose between good and evil. Some choose good, some choose evil. Listen closely- we need to always choose good. We need to walk the people we love towards that goodness when they get lost. We need to let them walk us back when we get lost. We need to fight for a better world for the babies who have yet to come into it. For the babies that ARE living in it. For all of us. I truly think that this world is possible when we start with the people around us. We need to love our people and then love them even harder when it becomes difficult to love them. Resist the urge to walk away. Take their hand instead. That’s when the magic really happens.
"So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you."
Today Brian would have been 40 years old. Brian, I am choosing to believe you can hear these words from heaven- your legacy pushed me back where God designed me to be, doing the work I need to be doing. Your love for your family has inspired countless people. Including myself. I hope you are having the most beautiful celebration imaginable not just today but every day in heaven.
I am so very proud that I got to do this work for his family. I hope these photos serve as a visual to what truly is lost in the face of gun violence.
We need to fight for peace, for love, for families, for our brothers and sisters who need us. We ALL need each other.