Meet Brendie

December 9, 2009

Brendie Bandara Heter, without question, one of the most fabulous women I have ever met. I worked with one of Brendie's best friends, Angela, when I lived in Haiti.There were pictures of Bren up everywhere in our apartment, and when I got home to Southern California, I recognized her immediately when I saw her. We were both walking into a mutual friend's house at the same time when I looked at her, got all excited, and said, "You're Brendie!" 

She just looked at me, a little, "and this fact is huge, why?"

Anyways, it didn't take very long for us to figure out that we have several friends in common besides Angela (my brother even knows her husband!?), and I have been stalking her on facebook ever since.

I have loved everything about Brendie that I have seen (and trust me, I've stalked her extensively). She's creative. She's funny. She's passionate - and she argues politics with her guns locked and loaded (not a joke - her husband bought her a gun for her last birthday...). But, more than that, Bren walks the talk. She believes you should love people, and use your talents to care about others, and so she does. What's so inspiring about that, is that she lives in the middle of suburbanite-ville in Santa Clarita, CA. Wiping out every excuse any soccer mom has ever had for not helping the poor or doing her part, Bren uses her resources, her time, her money...and her photography, to help those around her in need.

I've been inspired. 

Tell me a little bit about yourself? 

I am a passionate photographer ,wife, sister, aunt, friend, world traveler and local activist. I come from a large and loving family where pictures are a staple. I am number six out of seven children, and the proud aunt to eighteen nieces and nephews.  I volunteer with two local non-profits, the Foundation for Children's Dental Health and the Santa Clarita Valley Pregnancy Center.  On a side note, as a Christian, I believe Christians are
*pathetically* represented in non "churchy" organizations.  We have been commanded to serve the needy but sadly there is a lack followers of CHRIST

represented in our community outside of Sundays.  I've been able to use my passion for photography in both organizations and appreciate the doors it has opened for me!

What got you interested in photography? 

This is a multi-faceted answer.  Growing up in my family we take pictures at every event and at any opportunity.  I often say we are "the most documented family on the continent."   However, the main reason involves the death of my father when I was nine (9) years old.  How does this relate to my photography business?  Well, in 2007 I wrote an article about "Children & Grief".  In the article, I reflected how I wish I had more pictures of my father and I.  Writing the article proved to be a painful process.  I realized I had the ability to help families capture and preserve memories.  Essentially, I wanted to be able to provide little girls pictures that I crave. Soon after, I started Bandara Photography, LLC.

What kind of work have you done thus far? 
I have been the second photographer for two weddings but mostly focus on family and children sessions.  Let's face it, brides are crazy and weddings are stressful. I'm not interested in that scene.  I find it more challenging to chase a toddler and capture a moment to melt his mother's heart for years. Family sessions are my favorite.

What are the most exciting/interesting opportunities it has given you?  I was given the amazing opportunity to study  the art of photography  at the Palazzo Rucellai in Florence, Italy. Although Italy was gorgeous, taking pictures of lifeless ruins and landscapes did not interest me.   No emotions captured or memory forever preserved.  Just a church?  Just a bridge?  How boring!  I want smiling, laughing, even crying children surrounded by loving parents.  THOSE are the pictures people pass down through generations.

What kind of work do you like doing best? Snatching those quick, fleeting moments with infants and young children is why I finally ventured into the world of small business owners.  Children are a blessing from the Lord and I consider it necessary to preserve those memories!  I love it when parents let me "work" the child and give me the breathing room to move.  I like to get to know the little ones to identify focus areas.  For instance, does the littlest brother like Spiderman?  If so, I can probably get him to give me a killer stance with a genuine smile.  Or maybe his sister LOVES the color purple.  Then we can go on a "hunt" for the best purple flower.  When she finds it, her smile can light up any frame. 

These tricks also work for fathers.  Traditionally, men hate family pictures.  It may be intrinsically genetic and/or a scientific fact.  Classically, their wife has made them put on something uncomfortable and it will be "too hot". They hate their smiles and they would rather be anywhere else. Sports analogies, humor, candor and honesty usually work.  For instance, if I know the family well I may say, "Listen Dad. This is all about Mom.  If you work with us, Mom might make it all about you tonight."   Grin = Good picture.

Do you feel it enables you to see life or people differently - if so, how? 
Parents often say, "they grow up so fast" with such passion and intensity.  However, when asked how they are preserving their little one's unique characteristics and features they usually stumble for an answer. That is where I come in because I WANT to help.  It's more than a source of income for me.  It's a passion and I guess, an odd "calling".

(photos all Bandara Photography, LLC, except the engagement photo of Bren and Noah on the motorcycle, which was taken by Brian Baker, of Brian Baker Photography. His work here). 


angela said...

love love love. and so happy she didn't choose any pregnant pictures of me. brendie is amazing and inspiring and one of the best friends i have ever and will ever have! thanks, shan, for portraying her as the modern day hero she really is.

Phoenix said...

Damn, this girl kicks ass! What an awesome free spirit :) Sounds like you guys were meant to be friends.

Brendie said...

I'm a modern day hero AND an ass kicker? That is just spectacular news! Thanks again Shan for this opportunity and kind words. :)