Lauren + Ned | Colorado Engagement Session

Oh Lauren and Ned. :) Their joyful love for each other is surpassed only by their love of God and paralleled only by their family and adoring community of friends.

Everything about these two make me want to love God more, love people more, and be joyfully present. So thankful for you both Lauren and Ned!

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April 14, 2014 - 2:48 pm

Alyson Hartwig - I love these! You’re amazing Brian!

Brittney + Fox Wedding | Dade City, FL at Lange Farm

Brittney and Fox- thank you. The both of you are two reasons why I believe America is the best country in the world.  You’ve taught me what it means to take everything in on the wedding day, even when there’s a little drizzle; and made me grateful that there are intellectuals such as yourselves willing to passionately dive into educating our inner-city children and fighting for our country. So honored to have celebrated alongside you guys! Thank you thank you thank you.

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special interview series // insight that will make your wedding planning easier

Greetings photography enthusiasts!  In place of Brian’s typical insight, Brian Kwan Photography presents a limited-run series of interviews with married or engaged individuals, each introduced by a member of the BKPhotography board.  Our first entry comes from South Dakota resident Daniel Seibel who married the love of his life in July of this year.  I had the honor of appearing as a groomsman in Daniel’s wedding party and proudly present this insightful and humor-filled account from one of the best men I know.

-Scott Faris, Brian Kwan Photography board member.

 

What are your top 3 favorite memories from the wedding day?

Memory Disclaimer: I think every moment of a wedding is different when you are so sure – the “without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt”, whole-hearted, capital-S kind of Sure – that you want to be with this person everyday for the rest of your life come rain or shine or zombie apocalypse. I imagine that the difference between being “Sure” and being “pretty sure” is dramatic. That it colors the way you see each moment or escalates feelings of joyous anticipation versus nervousness. So here are my memories, coming from a guy lucky enough to be capitol-S “Sure”.

Memory #1: I have a slow-motion memory of my breathtaking bride walking down the aisle toward me with her mom and dad on either side. You really can’t imagine how that moment is going to feel beforehand, but it’s pretty incredible. As if she isn’t amazing enough, the sun is glinting through the trees in the orchard, there’s a softness in the smell from the light rain that subsided about an hour earlier, and there’s a mandolin floating on the wind. Tara looks up at me and makes eye contact about halfway down the aisle and the “it’s really happening!” feeling finally takes over. At that point, despite my best efforts NOT to turn into a blubbering baby, my eyes begin to fill up with happiness. Looking back, I’m amazed that Tara was able to make that long walk (probably fifty yards total) in heels without completely wiping out. Either way, that probably still would have been my top memory from the day haha!

Memory #2: Our photographer had done a great job of surveying us for all the different pictures and combinations we wanted far before the wedding day, so we had a solid gameplan for photos. The ladies were set to go first, then the guys, then the bride and groom for the first look and couple’s pictures. I guess somewhere along the way we underestimated the amount of time it would take for the nine bridesmaids to get properly primped. There’s a moment when all the guys are helping set up the reception area helping organize, fixing place settings, and messing with the band when the photographer bursts into the big reception tent (which was on the same property of the orchard where the ceremony would be and the historic mansion where everyone was getting dressed and ready) and frantically says, “The girls are supposed to be ready for pictures now but say they need a bit longer…can the guys be ready in 5 minutes? Any longer and we’ll be pushing back into the ceremony!” That was the moment where everything flips from nervous fun to all-out chaos. I holler at the guys, we rush down into the dressing area and madness ensues. Ties are being thrown, pocket squares tucked, brothers realizing they forgot belts, and everyones asking everyone to check and make sure they look ok. I think those frantic few minutes really stick out with me because you wait and plan and plan for months to make sure everything is perfect…but you KNOW a moment will come where everyone will freak out a little and that’s ok. As long as your pocket square is poking out just the right amount in the pictures.

Memory #3: For several years during college my brothers and I had a wedding band that played mediocre jazz and pop songs. We have experienced a lot of different receptions and know firsthand how painful a night can become if the band is not hitting on all cylinders, the sound system has problems, the guests at the reception have no personality, etc…the list of potential buzz-killers goes on and on. However, we managed to score an awesome, original band – my brother’s indie-rock quartet who just so happened to be humble enough to learn three hours of pop covers. At the end of a night of great music and even better dancing, they played Wagon Wheel (our favorite song) and everyone linked arms and sang along. It’s one of those organic moments of real community and real happiness that you could never plan. I’ll never forget it!

2) What about your wedding might you change if you could go back?
You plan and plan and plan for the big day and you never know what will go wrong (or right!). So looking back, we feel lucky to be so happy with the way everything turned out. The only thing that was a little stressful the day of was making sure that everything we envisioned and planned for was actually set up the day of. I guess we never really lined out who was going to make sure all the cute decorations were in place or who would arrange the tables when all of the ladies (the ones with the best eye for that kind of thing!) were getting ready in the morning. We had people slated to bring things (like the florist, caterer, photographer, etc) but it was unclear who was responsible to make sure the vision was executed. But the groomsmen all helped out and several family members swooped in to make sure everything was perfect. Crisis averted! As much preparation as we did though, I was kicking myself that we didn’t have that all lined out.

3) What advice would you give to those in the midst of planning a wedding?
We would definitely tell people planning a wedding to spend your time and energy on the things that matter the most to you. There are SO many decisions you have to make along the way and if you don’t prioritize, you will find yourself stressing about everything when so much of it won’t actually matter in the end! For us, the most important things were having an authentic ceremony that reflected who we are and a sense of community, great food, and a fun party that everyone would enjoy. So we spent a lot of time on those aspects and it paid off. No one will remember the color of the linens or what’s being draped on the chairs in the aisles, so just make the decision and move on. Better yet, delegate the less-important decisions to someone you trust and chose not to stress about it! Oh, and don’t underestimate the value of GoogleDocs when trying to stay organized…it’s a lifesaver!

sh*t just got real

*Disclaimer: if you’re here to look at wedding pictures, and are not interested in the personal side of my business, I’d recommend skipping this post!

 

Ok the truth is, as glad as I am to be a photographer, I have no idea what the hell I’m doing.

With my public photography blog here, it’s incredibly difficult to write anything because I’m so careful with my words and it takes me forever to write something that’s easy to talk about. I find myself filtering myself here, in social media, and even conversations with close friends who would probably appreciate it if I was actually more vulnerable and honest. Here’s to turning towards that direction.

I’ve fallen into the temptation of being like every other photographer- posting as if my world was just bright and peachy. Maybe other photographers do live in a world where everything really is overexposed and pastel-colored, looking like it was all shot for Style Me Pretty or Pinterest. But that’s not where I live, and that’s not what I see.

Last year, I left my classroom full of students that I loved when the school year ended to pursue this passion of mine full-time. Was that the right move? When I told my dad that I was going down this path, he was supportive as is his character, but I can’t say he was very happy. That’s supposed to mean something, right? That means he’s just waiting for me to realize that I’ve made a mistake, and for me to pursue a “real” job, right?

While my Teach for America peers continue changing the world one classroom / hospital patient / law at a time, I’m chasing chickens around and making images of shoes, bouquets and dresses.

I thought to myself, I’ll just get really good at photography, and show my dad how good of a photographer I am then. Then he’ll really be proud of me, tell all of his friends and maybe even show them my website. I wondered how long that would take, and if his beard would be all white by the time that happened, and if I’d be married and have children by then. I wondered what he’d look like if his beard and hair really did become white, and what it’d be like to have him be a grandpa.

The truth is, I’ll never know. I’ll never know because on June 19th, 2013, he suddenly passed away from a heart attack at the young age of 54, and it hurts far more than any other pain I’ve ever felt in my life. I swore to myself after my grandma passed away in 2005 that I was going to share the Gospel with my dad, because it was the most important thing I knew, and I’d want to see him in Heaven again if he did leave early.

I was close once, when I asked if it was ok if I shared with him about my faith in Jesus. It took all of my energy just to ask that simple question, and he asked to wait until another time. I said okay. That was in high school, and I never brought it up again.

One of the days leading up to the funeral, I took some time to look through old albums and put together a slideshow to be played during the service. It took me all day because of how draining it was. I often found myself with my head on the album pages, tears making my face prune because I didn’t have the energy to open my eyes, much less pick myself up to continue. I found photographs that I’d never seen before, images that were made before my time. And it was like discovering a whole new side to my dad that I’d never known. One of them was a picture of my dad and his two brothers who had just immigrated from Taiwan, and were lined up with their shirts up and their bellies exposed, each showing off how big their bellies were. My dad won that one, fair and square. You could tell just how proud he was with that smile.

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I also noticed just how little my dad was photographed throughout the years. There was enough for a slideshow, but not nearly enough for me. What I learned at that moment was, even if I had thousands of pictures of my dad, it wouldn’t have been nearly enough. I missed my dad, and there would’ve been no amount of pictures that would have been enough for me. I wanted my dad back, but those few dozen images were all I had left. Those images went from being on the bottom of a cardboard box to being my most valuable possessions.

My dad and I have had our ups and downs, but he couldn’t have been a better dad. He was loud and honest, kind yet short-tempered, loved people and good food. Above all, he loved his children. He loved me. It sucks that I have to talk about my dad in the past tense, and it sucks that the cost of me learning the preciousness of life was the death of my best friend. I hope no one else has to pay that price to learn just how special each and every minute is with the people that we love.

Being a photographer means making images not of shoes, bouquets and dresses, but of people, relationships, and precious moments that may never happen again. All of a sudden, each and every image of my dad meant the world to me, and maybe some of mine will mean the world to someone else in the future. I sure hope that I can be a photographer for good, but who knows. It’s hard to book when brides only see what’s in the photography blogs and wedding magazines- finding themselves planning a wedding that’s more about the day than about the moments.

I’m grateful for my friends, and my family, and for those who’ve trusted me to photograph your weddings. Thanks for inviting me to be part of such a special celebration, and never making me take a picture of your dress hanging from the hotel ceiling.

February 25, 2014 - 2:12 am

Susan Henley - Brian, I just read your blog and have tears running down my face. I’m so glad that Kristin and DongWon picked you to do there wedding. Looking at all the photos and all the smiling face’s brings back many good memories. Thank You and I’m sure your business will be very successful

September 27, 2013 - 6:41 pm

Caroline Dornfeld Colvin - This is so honest and beautiful. You are amazing, Brian. I’m so happy to know you.

September 24, 2013 - 9:32 pm

Jannette - Thank you Brian for sharing. I’m so sad to hear about your dad and your loss. =( Thank you for your honesty and sharing something so personal. It’s time I get real with myself and what really matters versus what doesn’t. =)

September 15, 2013 - 11:56 pm

Julia Flick Smith - I keep trying to figure out how to form a proper response to this beautiful and thoughtful tribute. This really touched me and I want to tell you that I’m sad for your loss,. This really shows you are a person who knows what matters and what doesn’t. I am so happy you photographed Marilyn and Will’s celebration. You were able to sort of weave in and out of the chaos quietly and soulfully. I could tell you were connected and invested in the whole event. Blessings.

September 13, 2013 - 3:05 am

Emily Mundt - Brian you are a gem. It takes a lot of courage to share what you feel and to pursue a passion the way you believe it should be. I think your dad’s spirit lives on so strongly in you and I pray that this journey of healing would sink you deeper and deeper into this self discovery. I gain so much from knowing you and always learn from your wisdom and boldness at viewing the world a different way. I’m praying for you and love to be a witness to how the Lord is growing you through this season.

September 12, 2013 - 9:56 pm

Julie Goeldner Johnson - I beg to differ, but only in that you most certainly know what you are doing! Unless you accidently take amazing photographs, that ooze with emotion. I am sorry for your loss and appreciate that we all question at times, but please don’t question your talent. Continue to share it <3

September 12, 2013 - 9:26 pm

Lauren Anderson - Brian, I am in awe of your sincerity, I am truly blessed to call you a friend and brother.

September 12, 2013 - 6:06 pm

Susan Maloney - This is awesome Brian. I lost my mom 4 years ago and your words could not ring truer. Each picture, each memory, each one of the moments I had with her will forever be priceless to me. I absolutely love seeing your pictures but more than that, I love seeing your heart behind each one. I have no doubt that your dad would be crazy proud of the man that you are today.

September 12, 2013 - 1:30 pm

Nikki Higginbotham - Look at you changing the world through beautiful pictures! Proud of you, Brian. June 19th leaves a sting on all of our hearts, but you have done incredible. Thanks for sharing and thanks for being freaking real!

September 12, 2013 - 10:14 am

Grace Wedgwood - This was so heartfelt and you are very brave for sharing it. On the contrary, I think all your clients should read it because it does show how much you value love and relationships. What you are doing with your photography is reminding the world to cherish those beautiful moments. You play a very important role in very important days. One of the first things a bride does is think about her photographer. I know that for me personally, choosing to have you photograph our wedding was one of the first solid decisions I made about the event. Because I know you will capture all that you described there perfectly. I hope that you continue to follow your passion and continue to make art I can’t wait for you to photograph our wedding :).

September 12, 2013 - 7:39 am

Emily Chidester - your honesty is beautiful. thank you for taking the time and mustering the courage to write this post, friend. don’t give up!!

September 12, 2013 - 5:20 am

Ashley Gettman - wow! Thanks so much for sharing this…so sincere and thoughtful. Your work makes an extraordinary difference, Brian!

September 12, 2013 - 4:26 am

Christine Watson - This is one of the most beautiful and moving things I’ve read in a long time, Brian. Your heart comes through in your photos in an incredible way, and your photos are some of the most captivating I’ve ever seen. Bravo. :)

September 11, 2013 - 11:03 pm

brian kwan - You’re right Al, he really was one of a kind and I’m so thankful that the both of you had that time together to travel, but also throughout the past few decades. I love your mom and will cherish all the time I’ll have with her in the coming years.

September 11, 2013 - 9:50 pm

Al Rivera - Your father was one of a kind. He was all things to all people but always knew who he wanted to be and made it happen. It is hard to believe that he is really gone but to reiterate the cliché: that’s life. My father and mother are in their mid 70′s and I am not looking forward for that day but it will come and I will be despondent, inconsolable, emotional, crazed and lost.

Just remember the photos you take will be the memorable impressions of their event regardless if it’s about them or the moment: you did your part.

:)