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The Short Version: Since 2009, 500px has served as a networking platform and resource for over 9 million photographers looking to attract prospective clients. Couples can use the searchable directory to find and hire a local wedding photographer with ease. Among the passionate self-starters with a portfolio on 500px is Berty Mandagie, a professional wedding photographer based in Seattle. He drew on his work experience to give us some useful tips for brides and grooms planning a wedding as well as photographers shooting a wedding. By connecting people who appreciate visual artistry, 500px helps photography enthusiasts pursue their passions and capture beautiful moments.
Berty Mandagie was 5 years old when a magazine featuring Machu Picchu captured his attention. The photo spread of Peru’s famed Incan citadel looked magical compared to his home in Java, a small island in Indonesia. Some day, he hoped to visit that far-off place and see the ancient ruins for himself.
Years later, his passion for photography led him to enter a 2015 photography contest sponsored by Timex and Outside magazine. The prize was an all-expenses paid trip to Machu Picchu.
As luck would have it, Berty won. He invited his girlfriend Emily to join him on a whirlwind trip to Peru. During an outdoor hike, he could see for himself the breathtaking sights that so entranced and inspired him as a boy. He’d fulfilled his childhood dream, and he was already dreaming of his next adventure. As they looked out over the magnificent vistas of Machu Picchu, Berty got down on one knee and proposed.
“It was overwhelming,” he said. “It felt pretty magical.”
Today, Berty is happily married and working as a professional wedding photographer with more than 90,000 Instagram followers. To connect with new clients, he shares snapshots of his life and work on 500px, an interactive learning community for photography enthusiasts.
500px boasts the world’s largest online directory of searchable photographers and photographs. On the site, anyone can browse through over 80 million photos taken by millions of photographers worldwide.
Rommil Santiago, Director of Marketing, said 500px exists to help photography enthusiasts improve their craft and expand their reach. “With virtually every style of photography on our site,” he said, “lovers of photography can find their favorite style, connect with other like-minded photographers from around the world, and give each other feedback and support.”
The 500px community taps into the talents of more than 9 million members in the largest social network geared toward professional photographers. Engagement, wedding, and anniversary photos gain exposure on the site and inspire other photographers on the platform to take impressive photos.
In addition to page upon page of beautiful photos, 500px offers visitors an international directory of photographers specializing in weddings, fashion, nature, headshots, and a variety of other topics. The directory is a fantastic tool for anyone planning a romantic photo session. Simply enter your location and search by category (Wedding, Maternity, Portraits, etc.) to find a professional to capture your special moments.
Based out of Toronto, Canada, 500px provides an open online marketplace where up-and-coming photographers highlight their work. Whether you’re an amateur looking to learn or a seasoned professional looking to attract clients, 500px gives you the opportunity to market your skills and expand your reach.
As members of the site, photographers can make their services searchable and set their own prices. 500px does not take a commission but fosters a free marketplace of creative works.
Currently, the directory has over 5,600 wedding photographers available for hire in cities around the world. Couples need only conduct a simple search to find the best local photographer for their special day.
It’s safe to say Berty is good at what he does. We asked for his insights for how to get great shots of happy couples on such momentous occasions, and he provided us with the following five tips for amateur wedding photographers:
In Berty’s view, wedding photographers should capture beautiful moments, not stage them. Forced poses aren’t romantic and won’t be as touching as a photo showing the couple and their friends and family as they are.
“Don’t work so hard to get people to stand in a line, put their hands in certain positions, or tilt their heads a certain way,” he advised us. “All brides and grooms naturally fall into a certain setting, embracing or leaning-in pattern, that’s unique for them. Capture that.”
Pinterest and Instagram are great for inspiration, but photographers need to have their own perspective and vision too. You don’t want to overdo it and produce cookie-cutter wedding photos. Berty told us photographers must be present in the moment to capture unique and gorgeous photos of a wedding.
The best wedding photographers are friendly with the bride, groom, and wedding parties during the photo session and then fade into the background once the ceremony or reception gets going.
Basically, you want them to feel comfortable enough with you that they’ll forget you’re there, so you can take more candid and natural photos.
Berty suggested getting to know the couple and their loved ones on a personal level to put them at ease while you’re photographing them.
“You have to find common ground, whether it’s a football game discussion for the groomsmen or something about the beauty of the flowers for the bridesmaids,” he said.
According to Berty, such small conversations can “help them to see you as a person and trust you.”
Wedding photographers are there to preserve those heartfelt moments — and that often includes little moments like a small laugh before the vows or a small exchange between the bride and her mother. You have to be on the lookout during transitions for touching and unexpected interactions.
“Sometimes an out-of-focus shot of raw emotion is far better than a technically perfect, well-posed, and lit photograph,” Berty explained. “Because it’s authentic.”
Wedding photographers are tasked with wrangling excited wedding parties into some semblance of order. Sometimes that means helping a shy bridesmaid come out of her shell; other times that means quelling a rowdy groomsman. Making these friends and family comfortable will make their personalities shine in your photos.
On occasion, a headstrong bridesmaid may feel a need to take control or voice concern on behalf of the bride, but professional wedding photographers should always follow the lead of the bride and groom.
As a newlywed himself, Berty knows what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera and can offer some useful tips for brides and grooms planning a wedding. He said there are simple things you can do to help wedding photographers create something special.
“As a professional who has shot many weddings, I would always encourage hiring a professional to capture your big day.” — Berty Mandagie, professional wedding photographer
By following Berty’s recommendations, couples ensure they end up with beautiful wedding photos they’ll cherish for years to come.
Your wedding photographer will be documenting one of the most important days of your life, so it’s important that you like that person. Berty encourages brides and grooms to spend some time getting to know a photographer — perhaps by sharing a cup of coffee while you look over his or her portfolio — so you feel confident that whoever you hire is the right person for you.
Once you’ve hired a professional photographer, make sure that person is in the loop about the schedule. This will help the photographer plan different shots throughout the day, Berty explain. Plus, if your photographer knows the timeline, he or she can keep everyone moving and on time during the hectic day.
Don’t worry about the dress, the makeup, or the people watching — when you’re asked to hug the love of your life, give it all you got. Staging an embrace isn’t going to look as good as a natural and honest bear hug.
Another excellent tip from this wedding photographer — tell your loved one why you love them. Whispering some sweet nothings in your partner’s ear can set the mood for a meaningful moment and memorable photograph.
Sometimes just remembering why you’re getting married and appreciating the day is the best thing you can do to set up a beautiful shot with your loved one. When you let yourself enjoy the beauty and emotion of your wedding day, it shows on your face and creates a moment worth preserving.
On your wedding day, you’re in control — you’re the one everyone will look to for leadership. You need to let your attendants know what will make you happy. As Berty said, “Your wedding photography will go more smoothly if everyone is on time, happy, and understands their roles.”
Berty’s love story is a touching reminder of how a boy’s daydream can become reality through passion and hard work (and a smidgen of luck). His imagination and vision earned him a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a romantic proposal, and a career sharing the joy with others. Now, as part of the 500px community, the professional wedding photographer showcases his artistic skills and expands his reach.
The team at 500px proudly supports the dreams and ambitions of photographers like Berty. “500px is a tightly knit family,” Rommil said. “At the end of the day, everyone at 500px strives to do right by our photographer community.”
Berty’s top recommendation for couples planning a wedding is to hire a professional wedding photographer who can do justice to your special day. You can use 500px’s directory as a resource to search through millions of photographers and find the one best suited to your needs and tastes.
Millions of wedding photographers use 500px to gain inspiration, develop their artistic styles, and grow their client base. “We at 500px will continue to do what we can to motivate the world’s up-and-coming photographers to invest themselves into the craft of photography,” Rommil said, “and spread the love of good photography with the world.”