Artist Feature:

Photographer Mariah Brink 

Mariah, tell us about yourself.

I am one of three sisters who grew up in a musical home serving Jesus. I’ve been told all my life I am a joyful presence, and I’m so grateful for that. I moved to California a few months ago, and my average day has been as follows: Wake up, make a pour-over coffee, drink it in bed over prayer, spend time reading or writing, run by the river or the beach, work from home or at a coffee shop, spend too much time FaceTiming, and then I surf, bike, or walk before making dinner or meeting a friend. To end the day I’ll often light a candle, turn on classical music, and read. 

I’m also interested in the beautiful outdoors, culture in unfamiliar places, all kinds of music, Scandinavian design, church, and the life of a Christian. I love doing something thrilling that makes me feel alive, like diving into water, running in the snowy winter, photographing strangers, and racing in triathlons. My favorite food is my grandma’s sourdough bread with tons of butter. I am also a sucker for fruit snacks. My most recent and happy hobby is surfing! The patience, the immersion in the ocean, the thrill, the exercise, the culture. . . . There are so many things to love about it!

Tell us about your artistic style and what you love about it.

As cheesy as it sounds, I love to capture a moment in time that will never happen again. I love this quote from photographer Katsumi Omori: “Nobody knows how the world is going to change tomorrow or even a second later.” We all have different perspectives, and it’s fun to share them in picture form.

I love doing something thrilling that makes me feel alive…

When did you get started with photography? How did you discover this passion of yours?

I grew up with a dad who always documented our lives on a big ol’ camcorder. My mom was a photographer and would take me and my friends out for random photoshoots. As a family, we loved watching the home videos or flipping through the photo albums. Through my parents’ influence, I gained an appreciation for documenting moments and the beauty within them.

Growing up I thought I wanted to work for a church, so at age eighteen I moved to Australia for ministry school. After three and a half years of college, friendship, and travel, I learned a lot about myself and Jesus. I realized working at a church wasn’t the only way to live a meaningful life of worship, and I discovered I really loved photography. I began dreaming about being a photographer and traveling the world, so I moved back to Minnesota and began learning from and shooting with friends. I loved it, started freelancing, and have been doing it now for six years. God is so kind! It continues to amaze me that I get to do what I love for work. Time with Jesus gives me life!

Now I’m starting fresh again in California, which is tough, but I am mostly hopeful and excited to see what unfolds here.

Cover shoot photos from Truly magazine’s Unity issue. Shot by Mariah Brink.


Tell us about your inspiration. What or who drives you to pursue this field? Do you have a mentor or role model who inspires you in this area?

My expression isn’t super abstract or wildly “creative.” I’d like to grow more in that way. I’d say my strengths are relating with people and photographing them honestly. When I go into a shoot, I draw inspiration from the individuals themselves and what they have to say about themselves, or what God tells me about them.

Time with Jesus gives me life!

I find major inspiration from poets and appreciative, slowed-down souls. My career is a creative roller coaster filled with dips where I find myself questioning if I am good enough, if people like my work, if I like my work, why I am doing this, and so on. What helps move me upward again is slowing down long enough to read someone else’s observations or hear my own heart speak its own. 

I strive to live by an adage from one of my favorite writers, Mary Oliver—“to observe with passion, to think with patience, to live always caringly.”

What is your favorite thing about yourself as an artist?

I love my appreciation for small things and my curiosity. I love to observe ordinary people in their daily lives and photograph the beauty I see in them.

My curiosity drives me to take photos of strangers (even when it’s awkward) or to have conversations with them. It also drives me to not stay too comfy, and I like that. I lead an interesting life!

What is the most challenging aspect of pursuing this art form?

It is definitely the hours and hours of being by myself, staring at a screen of hundreds of images that aren’t much different from each other, and having to make a thousand little aesthetic decisions. I am one to see many possibilities, so it can often be challenging to decide which way to go with a project. 

More on the emotional, mental side of things, comparison can be a huge challenge. Whether scrolling through Instagram and seeing what other artists are up to or working with a client who has previously worked with another photographer, I find myself instantly thinking I am not as talented or good enough. And this pretty much grinds my creativity and confidence to a halt. I do not operate well in that place. Stepping out of those thoughts, though, and reminding myself why I do what I do and what I have to contribute, helps me tremendously. Sometimes I forget to do that. When I’m operating out of confidence, my work and my connection with the subject is so much better.

How has your faith inspired or challenged you in this pursuit?

My faith has challenged me, when photographing people, to consider how God sees them and what he’s compelling me to focus on in my session with them. I have had shoots where I felt he wanted me to focus on someone’s eyes or a couple’s session where the Holy Spirit compelled me to capture the softness of their personality together.

I believe God has spoken to me about my contribution to this space being one of hope and joy, pointing to beauty and imagery that leads the viewer to feel grateful.

Do you have a favorite Scripture verse that you refer back to often?

For about seven years now, I have often meditated on Romans 12:1–2 (from The Message) and how my everyday life is an expression of my worship to God. 

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”

It reminds me that my value isn’t found in what I produce or my job. It also reminds me to invite God into the small moments throughout my day because they are just as important as a big client, a really cool project, or my church involvement.

What would you say to someone who is interested in getting started in photography to encourage them?

Be curious. Be generous in your daily observations and let that overflow into your photography. Get a small camera you can have with you all the time and shoot as much as you need. Let your curiosity and the Holy Spirit lead your pursuit. Don’t wait to share your work until you’re “good enough.” Your perspective is important and worth sharing.

My value isn’t found in what I produce or my job.

In the case of portraiture, get good at encouraging people in their beauty and creating an environment that is comfortable for them. HAVE FUN! If and when you start making money, don’t stop shooting the stuff that you enjoy (even if it doesn’t make you any money).

Anything else you want to share with our readers?

These are my favorite books on creativity and artistry:

  • Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle 
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
  • Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs of People by Henry Carroll
  • Art and Faith by Makoto Fujimura
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Keep up with Mariah’s latest on Instagram @mariahbrinkphoto or at her website,

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