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Meet Brandon Marks of Oakenheart Photography in SDSU College Area

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brandon Marks.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
While still living in Chicago, I used to work for J.C.Penney in the Home Department. Being interested in photography, I slid into the portrait studio one day and I asked for a job there. With no interview at all, except me explaining my experience as a photography student I got the job! And thus, my career as a portrait photographer began. Though challenging, I fell in love with photographing people- kids, families, couples- and soon, I could not picture myself doing anything else (pun intended)!

Fast forward a couple years, I had had numerous freelance sessions under my belt in Chicago and after moving to San Diego in 2014, I decided to take my passion and talent in photography to the next level. I decided to make it a formal pursuit to become a professional portrait photographer, specializing in weddings, engagements and family sessions.

Fast forward another few years to the present day and my photography business is finally starting to take shape. I can’t say it’s been an easy, smooth journey, however I realize that unpaved trails are often the most interesting and I like to feel the road under my feet. In fact, I’ve been considering a minor re-branding, taking my business, Oakenheart Photography, from the ordinary urban photo studio to more of a travel and adventure brand of portraiture. I am an explorer at heart and lover of all travel so eventually, I would like to connect a lot more with those who truly value this world’s natural beauty and seek to integrate these landscapes into their lives by way of my photographs and our time together shooting them. That important to linger on- it’s not just about the shots, it’s about the whole experience and how it strengthens our identity, our character, and our life.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Wow! Haha. This question. I didn’t realize I was answering it in the previous one!

Again, no! It has not been an easy road. I think honestly, most people feel the markets are saturated. I think photographers feel this way in particular, but I’m obviously biased. That said, people aren’t just walking up to me saying “Hey! Can you take my picture and I’ll give you money?” It just doesn’t work like that.

I think the biggest struggle has been cultivating myself as a businessperson- something I never saw myself as. I think as an artist, we generally try to avoid business plans, marketing campaigns, and sales pitches like the flu, chickenpox, and the black plague, respectively! It’s really a challenge to grow your business when what drew you to the craft in the first place- obscure creativity and emotional connection- are tangential to the skills necessary to achieve financial success.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Oakenheart Photography story. Tell us more about the business.
Quite simply, Oakenheart Photography is a portrait studio that specializes in weddings, engagements, and family portraits.

From the beginning, my motto for OhPg has been “Rich, Warm, Authentic.” More than anything, I believe in authenticity. In life and in business. When it comes to photographing, I will pose a shot, but it’s those images that are completely unplanned and natural that are the real winners. Those beautiful little nuances in a real moment are what make my heart sing. They’re why I do what I do and it’s that feeling (whatever you want to call it-
nostalgia, warmth, etc.) that I want to evoke in the hearts of everyone I photograph and that sees the images.

I’m most proud of that quality and commitment to it. That’s just built into the Oakenheart Experience. And while I am a fair guy and I believe that most people are well-intentioned, I think that too often people make decisions that are convenient or advantageous for them only. With me, that is not so. Instead, I see people as integral pieces of a single unit and what is best for others is, in a roundabout way, best for me too. I think it’s what sets me apart.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I think it’s all the same. Good luck, bad luck- it all evens out in the end.


  • Portfolio-building Special- Huge discounts on ALL sessions
  • $150 for any family or engagement session, on location (up to 4 people)
  • $100 for any single modeling portfolio or head shot session

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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