Remembering Laird Brown

by | May 5, 2022 | Obituaries

Image: Laird Brown

Image: Laird Brown

Phoenix-based photographer Laird Brown has passed. A Celebration of Life for Laird will be held by Zoom on Sunday, May 22, at 2pm Arizona time. For details, and a Zoom invitation, please email Kathy Brown at

Laird Brown started taking pictures with a passion in High School. At Kent State University, he received degrees in both Photojournalism and Journalism. In his Junior year, as Yearbook Editor, he created a unique 100-page pull-out supplement titled The Student, in the style of Life Magazine. He was selected for a summer internship at National Geographic Magazine, which published across two pages a time-lapse photograph of a solar eclipse he made near Hudson Bay, Canada, on assignment.

Legendary photographer Sam Abell was even influenced by Brown. Abell gave a speech at Kent State in 2005 and told the group of aspiring photographers how he came across a copy of The Student during a trip to Kent State at age fifteen and how Laird’s images had a profound effect on the beginning of his professional life.

An excerpt from Sam Abell’s book The Photographic Life: “When Abell was fifteen he went on a trip with his father to a photography seminar at Kent State University. While there he saw a staple-bound yearbook that emulated Life magazine, put together by student photographer Laird Brown. “When Brown created The Student I’m sure he had an audience in mind, but it couldn’t have included me,” Abell says. “Nevertheless, was there a person who studied his work more than me? I doubt it. I still look at it. The Student taught me about creative bookmaking, and also was a lesson in the unintended influence a book can have.”

Laird went to work at a paper manufacturing company photographing and writing stories about and for employees. One project had him hanging out of a helicopter to get a birds-eye view of a smokestack under construction. The image was distributed by UPI. Later he moved to another company doing a variety of public relations and marketing assignments. Along the way he earned a Master’s Degree in Communication. He started his photography business in 2006.

Starting in 2010 Laird offered volunteer photography at Justa Center, a day resource center that helps homeless elders get into housing. Over the next 4 years he created a photo story which turned into a 24-page magazine. It was self-published and donated to Justa Center to support their fundraising.

Laird’s all-time favorite headshot (featured image) is of friend and sculptor Gil Quintanilla at work. Never content with straightforward photos, his goal was to find clever aspects to highlight or creative perspectives for an image.

For more information about tribute to Laird Brown, go to Remembering Laird Brown.