Jeff Liles called early this morning with the astonishing, sad news: Brian Barnaud, photographer and longtime Deep Ellum fixture, died suddenly and unexpectedly yesterday at the age of 46. Teresa Gubbins has the details: "According to a family friend, Barnaud hadn't been feeling well and collapsed after taking a shower; family members suspect he had heart failure." Those unfamiliar with the name will be very familiar with the work, much of which is available in this exhaustive gallery -- spme of which is culled from his work at The Dallas Morning News and for local organizations and businesses; much of which is filled with personal portraits taken by Barnaud.
"He's an extremely talented photographer, and he had one of those personalities that was larger-than-life," says Jeff, who graduated from Richardson High School in 1981 with Barnaud and fellow former News photographer Judy Walgren. "He was always the funniest guy in the room."
In recent years, Barnaud had been the in-house photographer for the Undermain Theatre -- he'd see shows repeatedly, that's how much he loved the place and the people there. (Here's his page dedicated to photos from the Undermain's production of Greendale.) Longtime friend Angus Wynne, who Barnaud recently photographed at the Undermain's 25th anniversary party, first met him in the early 1980s, when Barnaud had a studio in Deep Ellum and was doing mostly fashion photography. Wynne was running a modeling agency, and he turned to Barnaud whenever one of the models needed to take head shots.
"He had a way about getting people up for a shoot," Wynne says. "He was so generous, ya know? He gave his work away constantly and without expecting anything back. He was so supportive of people who were not in a position to afford a photographer with the skills he had. And he was always looking out for the other person. He was such a good-natured, crazy guy. Not that many people stay that way for long -- an idealist. But he was such a giving person. I'm floored."
Designer Judy Aldridge, of Chiaroscuro fame, bids farewell to her old friend on her blog. She wrote today: "The Dallas fashion community is small and close knit, and we are all reeling from the news. I can't say enough kind things about Brian -- he was just the dearest person you would ever want to meet. A friend for life, someone that would do anything for you."
Update: A memorial is planned for Thursday evening at Pepe & Mito's Mexican Cafe, 2911 Elm Street.