We asked prolific Seattle-based Instagrammer of the Pacific Northwest’s epic, verdant beauty Berty Mandagie to share a few photos that characterize his journey into photography so far. And we snuck in some questions about what inspires him, how he works, and his advice for aspiring photographers, too.
How do you describe what you do? I am actually a middle-school intern at my church on the weekdays. I love working with middle schoolers because that is the age where you are trying to find your true identity as an individual and I want to be a part of that search and finding the student’s true self. And on the weekends I go out and adventure and do what I love most: take some photographs.
Was your path to what you’re doing now straightforward or a bit circuitous? My path was a bit more on the circuitous side, especially when it comes to photography. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn the art of photography. But I love doing it–it never feels like a job. It’s always been something I am passionate about, ever since I was a kid.
What’s your average day like? Well, I get up, have breakfast, get ready for the day, go to meetings, finish some projects. And have lots of coffee throughout the day because I love coffee. And sometimes when I have some off time, I go out with friends and shoot.
What or who do you look to for inspiration? When I take photos, I want my photos to tell a story without me telling it through words. I want the photo to speak to the people viewing it. For inspiration, I love Ansel Adams. The way he takes portraits, as well as landscape photography, is beyond words. He was crazy good.
Did you ever feel pressure from people around you to do something different? Not really. I tend to just tune out what others are doing around me and focus on what makes me happy. I love traveling and taking photos of the people I meet along the way. I love hearing people’s stories because they are all so different. I admire other styles of photography but I am never pressured to change my style.
What’s your advice to someone who wants to do what you’re doing? I would say, especially if you are just starting out as a photographer, you should focus on you! Focus on what makes you happy. At the end of the day, you’re not trying to make others happy with your photographs, you’re trying to make yourself satisfied with your own work. Once you do that, then you can focus on how to inspire others. Because truly, that is what life is about. It’s all about inspiring others and inspiring yourself.