How laundry made me tear up

Sitting at my front window, I spy my neighbors, young renters, across the street making trips out to the car. They are loading up with brightly wrapped gifts and loads of laundry baskets. One basket spilled a little on to the snowy ground. It’s dirty already, so who cares. This simple, mundane act sent me through a flood of memories, and stories. Stories of going home for holiday break from school all the way back to when I was a kid and woke up at some crazy hour in the morning (wait, I still do that, every day. ha!) to see what magical things appeared overnight.

View from my Denver studio Christmas Eve morning, my favorite time of day.

I remember one Christmas when I was living in NYC and decided last minute to jump on a tiny plane to a tiny town, for a 24-hour trip to be with my mom, aunt, and little cousin. She was at that really fun age when the magic of Christmas is palatable. We woke up and she saw the bright red shiny shoes under the tree from the loft, “DORTHY SHOES! I’M GOING DOWN!” she declared. She had a thing for Wizard of Oz that year. We all stumbled out of bed to join her.

Though our stories have different details, they all have a common holiday theme, love. Whether we’re celebrating the new babies’ first Christmas, or enjoying time together, or even cherishing the pain in our heart for those that have passed, it’s a gift to be able to fill up on these memories and the love.

I hope this season you’re making more beautiful memories to hold on to for days beyond today. Celebrate, spread the light, be the love. Happy Holidays!

Denver holiday lights and well wishes from Mariah Ehlert Photography
joyous time of year


How to have a more productive day and more time

Are you working your tail off at your business and then working your tail off to make all the family ‘fun’ commitments and ‘joyous’ celebrations? What if neither left you with your butt worked off?

I took a few days off for an extensive road trip to wish my aunt a happy 40th anniversary, spend time with my mom, and see my awesome incredible cousins. They are my heart and I love them tons. The many hours on the road gave me a lot of time to think about my days, and how I spend it and how I want to spend it, and why I’m not spending my day like I want. So going forward, I am designing my time to optimize joy, without joy and love, what’s the point?

We’ve gotten to the point where “I’m so busy” is no longer a badge of honor to flash around at everyone of your importance. It’s becoming an illness. But thankfully we can take back our time and still do all our duties. We just don’t have to do everything ‘so hard’. All it takes is some magic fairy dust.

I am happy to tell you, magic fairy dust is ours for the taking. Keep reading.

We really can trim some of the ‘fat’ from our work days and have a more fulfilling (and productive) day.  I have read a few books recently about doing exactly this, the most to the point is probably Timothy Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Work Week. I highly recommend it and a notebook as well.

How much time in a day can you save if you only check your email twice a day? Try it out then give me all the excuses as to why it won’t work. My point is that we can always very easily kill time and barely even notice that we were doing it. Don’t even get me started about Facebook newsfeeds. Chrome has a number of add-ons that you can install to either limit time on social media, or block a newsfeed (so you only get alerts and still have access to any groups you may need to get to). Brilliant, right? Those alone have saved me a few hours each day. What if you only checked your phone twice a day? I would probably add 8 hours to may day by not doing that (guilty)! I double dog dare you to turn off all alerts! Hey, it’s not like I asked you to shut off your phone (the horror).

By cutting out my social media during work hours, only getting distracted by email twice a day, and skipping meetings (and getting notes of anything important, which usually are summed up in a post-it), I’ve cleared out HOURS for downtime.

There is a backlash to getting more time, however. The first few days I had to adjust my thinking. “I have nothing to do, I should be doing something, it’s ‘work time’ of day,” and then would proceed to do meaningless tasks to fill the time. STOP. Maybe go take a nap, or go for a walk. You’ll quickly adjust to the fun free time.

Just think of the delicious things you can do for yourself now, with all that time. By filling up your emotional rest reservoirs (aka getting in some ‘you’ time), you’ll have an abundance to give to your friends and family. It’s nothing short of a super easy answer to a painful problem this time of year. Just say ‘no’ and the world generally will adapt just fine (in most cases, if you’re an ER doctor, please say yes to that trauma victim. Thank you!).

Time, beautiful, delicious time. More time to connect, more time to discover, more time to rest (and heal!), more time to create. Let me know what you change in your day to create more space and time.

Of course, you’re always welcome to come into my Denver studio and spend some quality time together with your most loved friend, spouse, child, parent while I create a custom session for you and make you all feel like Vanity Fair cover models. Get time now, and call for a consultation. 

Now I’ll stop typing and show you some of my favorite relationship photographs. Whether it’s “you” time or with time with someone you love, it’s special and precious time.

Happy Holidays!

Beautiful portraits in that dress you rarely get to wear.

I love transforming the every-day woman into a model. We all have it in us.
Something sensual for you, &/or your sweetie.
You & your BFFF (best furry friend forever)!
Mother-daughter, Grandmother-granddaughter; these sessions make my heart grow bigger, there’s so much love.

How To Have The Best Play Date

Yes, yes, it really is all I can talk about these days: SANTA PLAY DATE! Part of that is because I know first hand how fun it is for the whole family and how beautiful the keepsakes are that we are offering. We had our two HopeKids families last weekend and everyone left with big smiles and happy hearts. It was so lovely to give these families some time away from their kids’ treatments and worries here in my West Wash Park studio, a sanctuary for them. Being able to give them a family experience, like any other family, meant the world to them, and it was our honor to create it for these children and parents. But that’s not the end of what we are giving HopeKids Colorado, we are also donating $50 of every session fee and 10% of all sales to the organization, so it can continue its incredible work.

Please join us in celebrating the season, giving back, engaging with your families, and a PLAY DATE with Santa! 

Part of what made the sessions such a success was they were well prepared. Vala Vincent Photography and I, Mariah Ehlert Photography, want to make sure everything is perfect for you and your families, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.

  1. Make sure to show up on time. You get a private play date, the pre-scheduled time is all yours! But if you’re late, we won’t be able to move appointments around.
  2. Review the keepsake products and get an idea ahead about which you will want, it will help us to help you select the best images for you memories and gifts.


  • Let them know this will be FUN, and talk about what it means to meet Santa; ask what they want to talk about with Santa; they can write him letters too.
  • No need to coach them on smiles, we’ll capture them naturally, and it can add stress for them.
  • Let them know Santa, Mariah, & Vala are ‘friends’, and excited to meet them.


  • Bring your best fart jokes, anything to get the giggles going
  • Be ready to show love to your family
  • Leave the stress on the front stoop; we sweep away daily
  • It’s ok if everyone got dirty on the way here, it’s life, it happens
  • We are here to help make the holidays easier for you, and capture some amazing memories and that annual holiday image to cherish
  • Yes, we have mirrors so you can do a quick check and feel confident and camera ready


  • Yes: Similar color schemes: whites, tans, splash of red, greens, splash of gold or silver (here’s our Pinterest board for ideas)
  • Yes: Similar hues (light color schemes, or darks)
  • Avoid: Fluorescent colors, busy patterns
  • Accessories for the win: this is the best place to add drama to a wardrobe (versus in the fabrics): headbands, barrettes, necklaces, pins, jewelry, reindeer antlers

Pets (Sunday only)

  • Wear them out before the session: long walk, hard play, jog, dog park, whatever they love to get them happy and tired
  • Bring a favorite toy and/or treats, we don’t always use them, but it can them help focus in a new environment
  • Potty them before coming inside
  • Pet accessories are always a blast, let’s see what you have!

Have any questions? Send us an email, or ask on our Facebook page or on the Santa Play Date event page.

Have a wonderful week, we can’t wait to meet your families and photograph you.


Emergency headshot? Are you kidding me? Yes, these exist and they are 100% preventable.

No matter what your reason for having a portrait session is; if you want a dream session with gorgeous gowns, selfcare, hair and makeup done, or a full branding spectrum to show how awesome you and your work are and how you brilliantly stand out from your competition, or if you want a precious photo of you and your best most loving furry pal: I always make sure to get a kick-butt headshot in your session, and there’s a very specific reason why. Headshot emergencies!

It is not uncommon to hear: “But I don’t really need a headshot”, “Oh, this is silly, I don’t care what my business headshot is like, it’s rarely used,” and dozens more comments along these lines.

It’s silly until it’s no longer silly. Queue the panicked calls, emails, texts. “Mariah I NEED HELP!!…Can you get me a headshot today?!?!!”

Portraits, Travel

How on god’s green earth could anyone need a headshot so urgently? That’s what I thought the first time. By the 4th or 5th time, I realized this was  a real thing, and I am now determined to save the world from this particular emergency.

Anecdotal stories: a client came in with his wife for a maternity session, I had him sit for a “light test” (ahem, my sneaky way to get the reluctant hubby to sit for a portrait, your kid will love this some day, Poppa-to-Be!). He joked that it was completely useless to have a headshot and went on about how his field (engineer) doesn’t really need the for anything. Three days later I get the panicked call. Turns out his division decided to honor him in a publication they put out annually. And, they needed “a really good headshot today.” Whew.

This week, a worried parent needed a completely different crop, wardrobe, angle, and strict image size requirements for a senior photo. “Please please can you help?!” Woooosh, headshot by ME to the rescue.

The struggle is real folks. Make sure you have an updated headshot at all times, you never know when a villainous publication will come sweeping out of the ether to celebrate you! Or trickster school will give you new parameters. But fear not, I’m here to help.

Where did I put my cape?

Why An Experience Is Better Than A Gift

Life is short. It’s such a cliche, but we see it happening every day, and definitely every year when we send the kids off to the first day of school. Can you believe it? NO! Tears. Thumping heart. Moments fly by so quickly. How can we slow them down?

Brain science!

The more we can celebrate those moments, extend them and how they make us feel, the longer they will last. This part, is science. Neurotransmitters firing synapses and strengthening our ‘joy muscles’ (that’s my super not official term) the more we will feel joy. Our brains are designed to protect us from dangers; however, they do not understand the difference between a mountain lion attacking us and bills piling up, and queue stress response for both equally. How can we get out of this loop? JOY MUSCLES EXERCISES!

Part One: Savor. Part Two: Remember.

1. If we savor those memories, we make them bigger and stronger, and that feeling trickles down to our whole body (yes folks, the mind and body are truly connected). Side benefit of strengthening joy muscles: better health.

Yep, it’s true. The more we savor wonderful experiences, the more joy we will feel. How can I do that? Experiences. Create and participate in unique experiences. But don’t stop there. Relish in the, recount them, celebrate them, roll around in them as long as you can and flashback to them often.

2. Remember the memories: triggering that memory (photos work great for this, wink) triggers your brain’s response to it, which you conveniently strengthened in Part One. Do the same exercise again: savor it everytime it pops back into your mind. Turn that one little experience into a full-body happy feeling to reduce stress, increase happiness, and then spread it around. We could all use some wonderful feel-goods.

You’re all set now, go forth and work those joy muscles every chance you get!

Top Tips for a Kick-Butt Headshot

Your image is often your first impression. What does it say about you? About your business? There are so many elements you can use to create a kick butt image for your brand, whether it is for personal or professional use. Some of the key elements I use with clients are body language and expression. Learn about them here and take better photos!

Body Language. How are you standing, posed, how is the image cropped? What angle are your shoulders, hips in relation to the camera? First, hand the phone camera over to someone. Your arm has limited range, you’ll get a better angle if someone else takes the image. Think about how you want to come across: aggressive, confident, or powerful?

  1. Crossed arms will give a more aggressive/assertive vibe.
  2. Arms at the side will be more inviting, confident posture
  3. Hands on the hips is a power pose, and expresses power, confidence, and assertiveness without being aggressive.

Expression. This will always dominate over all else. Getting your intention to show through your expression is not always easy. Here are some tips, focusing on micro expressions. Know what your intention is, and use the best expression for that intention.

  • Beware of smirks, they convey ‘contempt’ or ‘disgust’ micro expression
  • Men: research has the greatest ‘know-like-trust’ factor is with a straight face or a full smile (not a half smile). Women can get away with small smiles, aka baby smile, and big full face smiles.
  • No smile, relaxed expression. This can either show a serious intention, or a calm, relaxed.
  • These are the windows to the INTENTION. Remember to engage your eyes. We all have the ability to warm up, lighten up, and/or ‘smile’ with the eyes. Practice in the mirror, and you’ll eventually get it, if you don’t immediately.

Now merge your body language and your expression, have someone take your photo, and see how you do. Keep practicing!


Interested in having me take your photo? Click here for a $100 gift voucher for a headshot session with me and see how I work with these elements.