Brandon Oda is a photographer based in San Francisco. His creative landscapes and portraits make him sought after in the San Francisco art scene. Oda grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles. His family supported his wish to attend art school despite warnings from others that he might not make enough money to support himself with his photography alone.
Oda attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where he majored in photography. His time in Providence sharpened his artistic vision. He often spent his weekends traveling around New England and photographing the ocean. He is especially inspired by sunrises and sunsets. Capturing the beauty of nature at its best motivates Oda to create gorgeous works of art.
When Oda is not on a photo shoot, he enjoys taking weekend road trips with his wife and their friends. The open roads of California and the surrounding states inspire him to create fresh new artistic creations. While he is driving, he frequently stops to take photos of the varying landscapes.
Along with his work as an artist, Brandon Oda is also skilled in computer programming. He has created his own photo editing program which he is interested in selling to a software company. His dual love of photography and software design makes him unique in the art world.
What was your best/favorite subject in school?
I’m sure you’re expecting me to say that art was my favorite subject in school, but it was science. I did especially well in chemistry. Some of my high school teachers thought I was crazy to go to art school when I had such an aptitude for the sciences, but photography is my passion and I felt I had to honor that with my choice in colleges.
What was your first job?
My first job was as a cashier in a supermarket. It taught me the value of hard work and the skill of getting along with many kinds of people. It was a stressful job at times, especially when the store was busy and the customers were cranky, but I adapted quite well. I continued to work in the grocery store over vacations while I was in college.
Where and how did you first get into the industry you currently work in?
I sold several of my photographs while I was in college, so I can say that I was already in the industry before I graduated. It takes time to build a following, so I had to work a side job for a while. I received my first commissions about six months after I graduated from RISD. That was exciting. For the first time, I felt like I might be able to make a decent living with my art.
How have those jobs prepared you for what you do now?
Every one of my photographs is a facet of my artistic vision. I have used all of my experiences as a photographer to better my work. Being an artist isn’t all daydreams and creativity. It takes a certain amount of hustle to be able to sell your work and look for commissions. That skill took a while to master.
Describe the best day of work you’ve ever had.
There are so many “best days.” One of my favorite assignments was for a national magazine. I had the privilege of photographing parts of Yosemite National Park. I love being out in nature, and Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
My natural curiosity keeps me motivated. I am always searching for new ways to express myself through my work. When your work is your passion, it’s easy to stay motivated. It is hard to go through the hustle of looking for assignments and arranging bookings for private clients, but it’s exciting to see the finished product.
What kind of business ideas excite you most?
I’m fascinated with social media. Instagram is an area where I’m just beginning to gain new clients. As a photographer, social media is the perfect place to promote myself. I am also very interested in home automation. I’ve been working on my own “smart home” for quite some time. Sometimes my wife is frustrated with my constant need to tinker with the equipment.
Have you ever tried any unorthodox techniques to attract attention to your business?
I’m always looking for new ways to promote my business. Most of my marketing works on word of mouth, but I have come up with some creative ideas for marketing myself. For my portrait business, in particular, I have given away brief photo shoots with the understanding that the client would help me market myself.
What personal achievement are you most proud of?
I have a book of landscape photos coming out in about a year. I’m incredibly proud of that achievement. I hope the book sells well, but just finishing it was a huge accomplishment.
What wisdom would you have liked to share with yourself when you first started out?
Don’t let the critics and naysayers get you down. When I was a teenager, I took criticism to heart. I’ve come to realize that some people will be negative no matter what you do. It’s better to create something that satisfies you rather than worrying about what people will think.