Category Archives: Uncategorized

Watching Families Grow Up…And Celebrating It!

The Berg Family

Michael and Tricia Berg just moved to a wonderful new home in the hills above Thousand Oaks, and updated their portrait just right before Christmas 2013. The last time we did their portrait at the Westlake Inn, and Tricia could hold Sophia in her arms! Don’t you just love Sophia and Francesca’s bright dresses?

BergBrandesPortrait

I love to create portraits that really are a living legacy to the things you hold dear.    I can think of no greater compliment than to hear that my portraits still make people smile, decades after I’ve created them.

Don’t let this year slip by without capturing this beautiful season of your life.

Get in touch with us today!

 

Los Angeles and Ventura Counties  (805) 367-8100

Orange and San Diego Counties   (949) 515-5140

 

 

 

 

A new approach to classic portraiture

The Olewiler Siblings, Mark Brandes

When April asked me to create a portrait her siblings, I envisioned an updated approach to my classic portraiture.

It occurred to me that our family has countless fun and spontaneous images, but what about the other parts of their personalities?  I wanted to create a significant portrait – one that becomes more valuable through the years.  The Olewiler siblings are strong minded, competitive, and individually successful.   Part of that is because their common bond of those values were shaped when they were very young children.

For me, I can think of no better way to embody these elusive visual statements than with a classic approach.

Many of our past clients agree.  When we created their first portraits, it told the beautiful story of younger lives, as their individual personalities were still emerging.  These new portraits are sort of like bookends, that show where life has taken them.

What about you and your family? Who are you becoming?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a significant portrait of this stage in your family’s story?   Let’s explore what that might look like, and create something uniquely you.  Call me today at (805) 367-8100.

 

 

Why I Love Portraiture

I’ve always loved to find what is beautiful and noble in people I meet, and it’s been fundamental to my success as a portrait artist all these years. Early on, I created this portrait of April and myself, in hopes of showing the beauty of our relationship – as artists and as lovers.

This summer, we went to Uganda, and I photographed dirt-poor coffee farmers who were filled with hope for a better future. I especially love this one, because the father is dying of aids, and is passionate about teaching his sons how to carry on when he is gone.

I love classic portraiture, because it brings a level of increased meaning and value to the work.

I especially love the holiday season – in part because so many people come in for their portraits – formal, elegant, relaxed or urban. I continue to really enjoy creating elegant, classic portraits because they show that some things are worth slowing down and taking time to do.  That there are moments worth remembering for a long time.

I’m honored that so many new – and past – clients continue to trust me to create works of art they will enjoy for many years to come.

If you’re thinking of having a holiday portrait made, please call soon. While my creative energy seems endless, your time is running out. (805) 390-7513 or 949-515-5140. You can email me anytime at markbrandes@brandesportrait.com.

Wonderful afternoon at Chestnut Hill!

DiMariaChestnutFarmsBrandes

Earlier this month, we had such a great afternoon photographing several young riders at the beautiful Chestnut Hills Equestrian Center where Shane Wireman is the owner/trainer.  Thanks to everyone who made it such a great day!  Each of the girls were so different from one another.  It was fun to do some images in their  traditional show clothes and others like this one of Faith DiMaria, in an outfit that totally captured her personality.

We’re starting to take sign ups for the San Diego Hunter Jumper Association’s Showcase Book.  Faith was one of the first people to be photographed for it.  If you’re in the association and want to know more, please email me at brandes.mark@gmail.com.

Ahhh, Seal Beach :-)

Seal Beach Pier in Winter
Last year, we lived for a few months just around the corner from the sand in Seal Beach. It was terribly romantic for April and me, and it was a pretty incredible experience for me as an artist as well. The crowded, urban nature of the pier, the weekend beach-goers with their umbrellas, picnic lunches and even the big berm they put up every winter to keep the storms out – they’re all beautiful elements that tell the story of both the beach and the people who love it.

Maybe it’s because of my fond memories, but it’s definitely become my favorite beach to create our client’s portraits. Besides…it gives us a chance to debate over going to The Abbey or Beachwood BBQ for dinner afterwards ( they’re both GREAT).

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If it’s time to update your portrait, let’s meet in Seal for your portrait … maybe you’ll be seduced by this happy beach town as much as I am.
Mark

Call the studio at 949-515-5140 in OC or 805-367-8100 in Ventura County.

I’d love to visit this family again in 5 years!

Uganda Widow 2001

 

I’ve been to a lot of places in this world, but I’ve never been to a place that I felt so out of place as when I visited this widow and her family in the Rakai district of Uganda.

We were working on a video project to help the Celebrate Hope ministry, and we were interviewing this woman who lost her husband last November. He was to have been sponsored to be a coffee farmer thru Celebrate Hope, but he died before the plants were given, and left his widow with 5 young children.

The good news is that this coming September, she will plant about 300 coffee seedlings, and in about 4-5 years, she will be able to make $2500 a year on her coffee crop. You may not think that’s much, but the average family in this area lives on about $500 a year!

Why did I feel out of place? Well, for one thing, I was wearing clothes that were brand new, and the boys in this family may have no other clothes than what you see in this portrait. I may have been one of only a handful of white people they have ever seen in their life, and I held in my hand a camera that would cost this family 6 years of their total income.

Personally, I think feeling out of place like this was a good thing…a very good thing.

Slap me next time I whine about anything

Things I don’t have answers for….


After traveling to Peru last summer, I have more questions than answers about what poverty really is. This image is of a squatter’s slum on a hillside above the city of Lima. While I visited with a couple in the main room of one of these “houses”, I noticed a teenage boy watching Youtube in the room next door.

I’m not making any judgment on this scene, but I also don’t know what to think. What can I make of this family who has internet, but barely has food?

Regardless of the things that confuse me, I do know this: poverty breaks God’s heart. And poverty is of the soul as much as it is of the body.

I’ve started to ask God to break my heart for the things that break His.

I wonder if you’ve been on a journey like mine? What is your passion? How do you act on it? If you need something to jump start your heart, you might want to check out Operation World, whose link is posted on the sidebar.

I’d love to hear from you.

New Paintings

Mark mentioned in his last blog that we’ve been doing some experimenting with close up portraits of individuals, and last week he photographed Malina Coto.    She is stunning, and a perfect model for the project.  I thought it would be fun to post a quick sketch I’ve made from Mark’s camera study.  Malina and her mother Yadi are coming to the studio today to see all the images, and I’ll be sure to post the painting when I complete it in a month or two.

April

Following My Passion…

Remember film?  Back in the olden days, I was a wedding photographer when there were no easy-to-use digital cameras. The challenges were completely different, and few people dared to be photographers. We typically shot between 180-200 images at an entire 9 hour wedding.  We had to plan ahead, to think carefully and to know before we even clicked the shutter exactly what the end result would be.  Things were so different then

Those years of experience shooting weddings launched me into what I hope is a lifelong career in portraiture.  From the very beginning I’ve been blessed.  I’ve had incredible opportunities to create innumerable portraits of people all over the world.

And, I get to do what I love most.  My passion is for families:  especially families with grandparents, little children and everyone in between.

I also love the equestrian world that has welcomed me so graciously.  I’m experiencing an intensely creative time of doing individual portraits.  Some of these are young children and “soon-to-be adult” young men and women. I’m collaborating with April in painted portraiture.

It’s a time of great experimentation that’s based on years of experience with you, my kind and trusting clients.

It may be time for you to update your portrait.  Heather Hawkins and her family came back last year and we created this gorgeous portrait.  Wouldn’t it be fun for you to have something equally interesting – and beautiful – made this year?  I hope to hear from you soon.

The Artist: Inspiration for 2012

April and I went to see The Artist, which is a wonderful contemporary silent film in black and white. It’s true that a picture says a thousand words, and this silent film reminded me of why I love what I do: Thanks to my clients, I get to tell the visual stories of their lives. Exciting things await in 2012!