Brandes Portraits

A Family's Legacy in Art for the Home

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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.

What I did on my summer vacation!

 

TLF Image

Earlier this summer I went to camp! Actually, I was a counselor at a camp at Irvine Lake, here in Orange County that was sponsored by the Teen Leadership Foundation… www.teenleadershipfoundation.com. The Teen Leadership Camps are focused on teen age foster kids who live locally.

The majority of the counselors at the camp were from Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa (April and I actually attend the Rock Harbor in Mission Viejo). All of the Rock Harbor churches have a pretty young congregation… I think the average age is about 30 or so. Needless to say, I was about double the age of most of the counselors at the camp!

I had the time of my life! I felt like I was in college again. I was partnered with a 13 year old young man named Abe, who lives in a group home in Santa Ana, and we really hit it off. Of course, it was more like a black kid going to camp with some random white grandpa type…but hey, I did the high-ropes course and the zip line like a champ.

Abe and I slept in a bunkhouse with about 20 other guys…just like in jr. high! I was willing to take the top bunk, but Abe wanted it. Considering how warm it was, I’m glad he ended up there, and he slept like you would expect for a teen. Given the amount of candy he brought with him, I was amazed! Seriously, there’s a 7-11 store somewhere in Santa Ana that had to place a double order of Skittles after Abe hit them up.

At the end of the weekend, we were all pretty exhausted. Everybody gave out a lot of hugs, and yes, there were a few tears shed…oh, wait, maybe that was just me.

Over the years, I’ve been to a lot of countries on short-term mission trips…Russia, Cuba, Peru and most recently, Uganda. You would think that my heart would break for all the people in those foreign countries, but you know, by the end of this camp weekend, I was wrecked. And it happened just 15 miles from my home!

My heart breaks for these foster kids who never ever deserved to end up in the place they’ve landed. Right now, I’m excited about getting approved through Olive Crest to mentor Abe. If you want to join on an adventure that could break your heart too, then check out www.teenleadershipfoundation.com . Call me if you want more info.

Looks like Kentucky!

Miles

Today I delivered this portrait of Lindah Miles and her three daughters, and I think it’s such a gorgeous equestrian portrait. The girls are triplets, but fraternal triplets, and so much fun to work with.

We actually did this portrait at Ivy Gate Farm, which is Mary Morrison’s barn down in San Juan Capistrano. We found just the right spot on the property to do the portrait, and it really feels like you’re in The South, and not the south of Orange County!

What a pleasure it is to capture such lovely ladies and horses in an art piece they will love for decades.

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.

The Fuller Family

I love the session we just did of the Mark and Monica Fuller family. They live in Santa Rosa valley, which is perfect for their daughter Madison, who loves riding. The portrait is especially important to the Fullers. The experienced first hand that when our kids head off to college, it takes a little more effort to get the whole family together.
Mark worked at the Norton Simon Museum, and the Fullers have an amazing collection of artwork in their home. You can imagine what n honor it is that we will be making a painting for them.

Brianna Reid

Here is another image  from the sample portraits we’ve been doing. This one is of Brianna Reid. Both April and I were inspired by how Brianna’s blonde hair so beautifully contrasted with her blue blouse.  I love the illustrative feeling to this painting.

 

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.

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