A couple months ago I stumbled upon Mara Grace Cortez’ instagram account. Seing God’s creation that was captured in these pictures on this account changed my perspective. Why? Because until then I had never in my wildest imagination thought that such beautiful places existed on this earth. These pictures reminded me of how much God loves us. He loves us too much to just keep His perfect creations in Heaven. He wants us, undeserving sinners, to enjoy them as well. He has not forgotten us. His perfectness is not kept on the other side of earth, no, it is also displayed here on this side of Heaven.
Therefore I am so incredibly honored to feature the extremely talented photographer and storyteller behind the pictures on my blog today. No one else than my favorite photographer, the gorgeous Mara Grace Cortez. What an honor! This woman sure has something on her heart and I hope you will be inspired by her, just as much as I am. A look at her instagram with almost 20.000 followers might indicate that I am not the only one who love her and her work. And without further ado let’s get into what Mara has to share.
–Tell me something about yourself.
I’m 24 years old. I’m a Los Angeles native. Born and raised in the sunny city. I am an avid reader and lover of the 70s. I love thrifting and buying vinyl records to dance to at home. Wes Anderson films are my favorite. I am an environmentalist so I deeply care about protecting and caring for the environment and national parks. Aside from Jesus, my other love is traveling and sharing Jesus through my photographs of the places I’ve been to.
-When did you start taking pictures?
I started taking pictures at the age of 18 when I attended college for film photography. I didn’t know a thing about film or photography, only that my parents used film cameras throughout my childhood to document our young moments. I had my first experience in the darkroom and processing room and it was the most magical experience I ever had the pleasure of living. At first, it was hard for me to understand things like aperture, shutter speed, composition but as I took more and more photographs, I started to get the groove of it. To this day, I sometimes still forget how those things work but that’s the beauty of photography, just getting to know the camera for yourself.
-Why do you like taking pictures so much?
Gosh…simply put, I love taking pictures because I can tell stories. I don’t call myself a photographer, I prefer storyteller because anyone can take a picture but not everyone can tell a story. When I photograph something, I want the viewer to feel what I felt, to see the landscape or the person as I saw it. I want to invite them into that moment. Also, when I look back at those memories, I feel nostalgia. I can recollect exactly what was taking place and it makes me emotional.
-What is your favorite location for taking pictures?
My favorite thing to photograph is Nature. So the outdoors is my favorite place to shoot at. Landscapes are my favorite because it’s not about the trees or the waterfall or the mountain. It’s about how God is intimately involved in Creation. Photographing nature has brought me so much closer to God because I see his heart in all of it. It humbles me and changes me.
-Some tips for taking the perfect picture?
A lot of my friends have said this and I say it often but it’s true: it’s not about the camera you have, it’s about how you see things. You see things in a way that nobody else can so when it comes to taking pictures, use your unique eye to capture. Trust me, nobody wants to see the same angle of Yosemite over and over. I shoot mostly from my iPhone 6 and even though I have a DSLR, I’ve learned that it’s not the gear that makes the perfect photo, it’s your eye.
-…And since my blog is called living life fully alive, what does it mean to you to live life fully alive?
To live life fully is to love Jesus above everything and walk in His ways. Getting to know Him and Loving people and growing in grace and humility. I seek to live a life detached from materialism, vanity and comfort. Over the past year I have learned to live with little and embrace who Christ has created me to be. I live in a city where every billboard and person tells me to have more, more, more and be more, more, more. Traveling, particularly camping, has taught me to live a life free from having the latest iPhone or having to look like a model 24/7. It’s in my relationship with Jesus that I’ve found true life and therefore I don’t have to live according to what the world tells me.
Connect with Mara:
First two pictures and the last picture: taken by Kassia Phoy (Kassia’s facebook)
The rest of the pictures: taken by Mara Grace Cortez