Brian Passey is an award-winning writer by trade, a photographer by hobby and an explorer by definition. Some of his fondest childhood memories comprise road trips throughout the western United States or even simple Sunday afternoon drives with his family.
The exploration gene seems to run in his family. Even as he approached his tenth decade, Brian’s maternal grandfather could still quote the exact mileage between two tiny towns at the opposite ends of Utah. Meanwhile his paternal grandfather set the Passey family standard for exploration when he began highlighting all the roads he had traveled his atlas. Brian’s father and uncle both continued the tradition and Brian soon picked it up as well.
That love for exploration — combined with an artistic desire to capture the essence of place — is at the heart of Brian’s writing and photography. Although he makes his living as a features writer at The Spectrum & Daily News in St. George, Utah, Brian’s first love was photography. A trip to Alaska in 1993 planted the seed while a visit to Zion National Park a few years later led to its germination.
At the age of 16, Brian made his first solo roadtrip, traveling for four days throughout the Four Corners area and shooting roll after roll of film. He was hooked. Following a cross-country roadtrip in 2001, Brian realized he had been to more than half of the states and made a goal to visit them all before he turned 30. Two flights and one more cross-country roadtrip later, Brian accomplished his goal, turning 30 in Hawaii, the last of the 50 states.
The chronicles of these journeys, as well as plentiful daytrips and hikes throughout Southern Utah, have made Brian something of a local celebrity in St. George, Utah, where readers of The Spectrum regularly recognize him from the mug shot that runs with his travelogue. Many of his readers say they feel as if they are driving the roads and hiking the trails with him because of his first-person, descriptive storytelling. Some also rave about his photographs that accompany each story.
In addition to his travel writing and scenic photography, Brian also enjoys stretching his artistic side through digitally altered abstract images with high contrast, deep shadows and occasionally bright colors.
As a part of the features staff for The Spectrum and as a regular contributor to St. George Magazine, Brian’s writing extends beyond the first-person travelogues to stories on the arts, entertainment, religion, food, health, family, businesses and unique personalities. His travel column appears every second and fourth Tuesday in the Southern Utah Life section of The Spectrum and his hiking column appears every other Friday in The Spectrum’s Outdoors section. He also writes a weekly music review in The Spectrum’s Where It’s @ entertainment guide, which publishes on Fridays. As a regional correspondent covering Utah for USA TODAY, Brian’s work usually appears in the national newspaper a few times each year. Many of his articles for USA TODAY can be found in his story index. One recent article for USA TODAY was the No. 1 story on USATODAY.com for two days in a row and remained in the top 10 for four days.
Brian was born in 1978 in Cedar City, Utah. At the age of 5, his family moved to the rural farmlands outside of Rexburg, Idaho. He grew up in the Idaho countryside, graduating from Madison High School in 1997. After serving a mission for his church in the Philippines, he returned to Rexburg to attend Ricks College as a photo major. While working for the school newspaper, The Scroll, Brian discovered his love for writing and became a journalism major. He graduated from Ricks with an associate’s degree in journalism in 2001 and went on to the University of Idaho in Moscow, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2004. While at UI he worked for the student newspaper, the Argonaut, eventually serving as editor in chief his senior year — the same year the paper went on to win first place in the nation for its division in the Society of Professional Journalists awards.
Following gradation, Brian was selected as one of 16 writing fellows for the summer fellowship program at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Fla. After the intense, six-week program he accepted a job at The Spectrum & Daily News in St. George, Utah, as a local government reporter, covering the city of St. George and Washington County. In 2005, the newspaper selected him to work as USA TODAY’s regional correspondent in Utah on top of his daily duties at The Spectrum. After two years at the paper, Brian had the opportunity to move over to the features desk where he fell into a job he truly loves. His awards from the Utah chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists include recognition as the best reporter among Division B newspapers throughout Utah in 2006 and first place in minority issues reporting in 2008. St. George Magazine readers also selected him as the Best Spectrum/St. George Magazine Personality in 2010.
When he’s not working or getting paid to have fun, Brian is a volunteer for the Erin Kimball Memorial Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps survivors of domestic violence and abuse. Brian manages the foundation’s Twitter and Facebook profiles. He’s also a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program where’s he’s been matched with his “little,” Jeremiah, since December 2004.