Mari Miller Photography: Blog en-us (C) Mari Miller Photography (Mari Miller Photography) Sun, 24 Jul 2016 21:32:00 GMT Sun, 24 Jul 2016 21:32:00 GMT Mari Miller Photography: Blog 80 120 Day 6: It's a Michigan Day Today will be a MICHIGAN day. We start in Detroit at the M1 Concourse, and continue to the upper peninsula UP of Michigan to St. Ignace.


Another city, but the routine is getting familiar. Early up.. get to the track, eat, visit vendors, but today MINI USA had a special announcement!

The arrival of the new SEVEN... and we are the first to see it

MINI flew it into Detroit for us to see it before it's available to order.

The interior was different than in the past... I love the plaid!








I think it's a hit. Unlike past models that are limited in production the SEVEN can be ordered until there isn't a demand for them (so I heard)

Beautiful MINI, but I am holding out for a classic!

Morning routine... gather around for official announcements, and who won prizes!

Time to take to the track.... well kind of. We were able to drive just a small distance at a very low speed, but we did it!

Now we are off to our Surprise and Delight. This time we stop at a cupcake bakery, and they promise not to run out of anything.

My turn to drive.... for some reason he never lets me drive, and this is my Twiggy!

At the next stop we switched, and I had more opportunities to do some drive-by photos.


Our stop... at the cupcake shoppe! Well... they ran out of MINI cookies. This is the one stop that I looked forward to the most, and I am a little disappointed.


A friend let me take a photo of their cookie, and as sweet as she was actually offered me hers. Of course I didn't accept, but how sweet she was just for offering!



Since I didn't get a cookie... we found a great place to stop. Cops and Doughnuts!



This is the best place.... the doughnuts are outstanding, and we had a lot of fun playing with the props!

We just had to stop and see more family. This is Aunt Marie, and she feel in love with Twiggy! We visited with her, and shared our doughnuts then we headed to St Ignace.

Our hotel was located just across the street from the water, and we had an amazing sunset! When we first arrived in Mackinaw City it was raining, an no hopes for a sunset. We checked into our hotel which was not what I was use to, but Twiggy was able to spend the night right outside our door!


So he was really excited, but I was wondering what we were going to do with the huge hot tub in our bathroom.

This was like going back 30 years... it was clean, and all the options were gone since we didn't plan ahead!

AND our view... was worth the money!

Tonight was the first night since we started that we were 'on our own' which meant no big event was scheduled. We had a night to ourselves so we ordered in a pizza, and headed over to watch the sunset over the bridge.

The scenery to St Ignace has been so beautiful... not that you want to stop and take photos, but just so peaceful. The smell of the pine trees just filled the air, and with the convertible we enjoyed every moment!


Here are more photos from today!




]]> (Mari Miller Photography) MINI Takes The States MINI USA MINI. Mari Miller Photography Mini Life Design and Photography Twiggy mtts2016 Thu, 14 Jul 2016 19:48:00 GMT
Day 5: Motoring to the Motor City Today we start in Pittsburgh, and we motor off to the Motor City. Our Rise and Shine was at The Meadows 'horse track'... took me till today to figure out the 'track to track'. It's race tracks, railroad tracks, and horse tracks!


This cutie greeted us with his pony this morning!


Breakfast at the track... and I am thrilled to see theirs coconut water! Driving in a convertible with the heat we have been so dehydrated, and we have stocked up on liquids from the morning events to keep us going.

Our adventure continues..


Still following some MINI as we travel into Ohio where our Surprise and Delight will be today.

A little town of Lisbon known for it's invention of the drinking straw!

Like most little towns they were notified we were coming, and families lined the little streets waving at us. It's great to see the smiles our cars bring to peoples faces!

As we arrived in Lisbon the entire town came out to greet us, and the police had donuts to buy!

I am not sure this little town knew what they were in for, but they were very hospitable as hundreds of MINI tried to find parking places!


I think they made an exception for us!

It still makes me smile to think of all the MINI... shapes, color, designs, and attitude that each bring. MINI is just such a happy place!

After donuts, and a great twisty straw hand-out by MINI service we were off to Detroit.





Again, my drive-by photos kept me busy along our travels. Love this new Clubman!


Much needed laundry stop south of Detroit. We had only planned on three days/two overnights, and now we are on Day 5. I hadn't been to a laundry mat in such a long time I didn't realize that the machines take credit cards!

All clean, and ready for some more travel...

After stopping to get caught up on our laundry we headed to tonight's event at the Eastern Market.


Tonight's event includes Food Trucks! You could see all kinds of food, and dessert trucks parked around Shed 3.




We want in.... some of us arrived a little too early, and it was blazing hot outside. You could see all the set-up going on inside!


Once we realized that all you had to do was walk around to the front we walked into a party with local artist displaying their artwork, and the loudest band ever!



Do you think these would fit in a MINI? Interesting choice of artwork to display to MINI owners.




There were lots of food choices, but we decided on this one!

Would you agree.... Reuben, and a Steak Torta (steak, cheese, jalapeno, and picked onion).


They were delicious, especially with the Orange soda! Just want we needed!



Check out this chick with all her buttons, and MINI purse!



WAIT... there's more!

How could you forget dessert?

Homemade cookies with ice cream. The perfect finish to a great evening!

We left early from the event to visit family.

We hadn't see them in quite a few years, and it was great to catch up. Stayed up a little later than we should have because tomorrow brings an early start again... on the M1 Concourse!


Here are more photos from today!


]]> (Mari Miller Photography) MINI Takes The States MINI USA MINI. Mari Miller Photography Mini Life Design and Photography Twiggy mtts2016 Wed, 13 Jul 2016 19:48:00 GMT
Day 4: Off to Pittsburgh I really can't believe that this is Day 4... I feel like we have been on the road for weeks!

Today we start in Baltimore at the Camden Yards Sports Complex, and I have to say that this stop has brought out more MINI than any other... I am not sure exactly how many, but it's close to 700 from the aerial photos I have seen.

Once again it was an early Rise and Shine at 7:30... same routine 5:30 get up, and pack Twiggy. I have the packing down the only problem is that we only planned for a couple days, and we are running out of clean clothes.

The caters today, which were the ones from last night, were the best so far! Breakfast burritos were on the menu, and some of us enjoy breakfast with our MINI. 

Because we have the best vinyl graphics person at MTTS, and she happened to park in front of us. Lucky for us Joanne put on Twiggy's decal.  Thank you so much Stuck on MINIS. Twiggy is looking great!

Team "Sign Maggie" has been collecting signatures, and donations for Feeding America.

This is what is great about this group. Not only are we having a great time, but along the way there are multiple groups that raising money for MTTS charity. This particular team is a high school boy who has more heart, and soul than most adults decided to plasti dip his Countryman and give you the opportunity to sign it for a donation to Feeding America. Most young kids first of all wouldn't hang out with a bunch of crazy 'MINI' people let alone dedicate his entire trip to help defy hunger! Imagine the things that he will accomplish in his future!

 After spending time socializing, eating, and trying to win some cool MINI stuff we were off to our Surprise and Delight! Like each morning the 'pit crew' was there waving us on to our next adventure. Just to take a moment here... the 'pit crew' were amazing. They greeted you every morning with a smile, they helped, encouraged, and always had such a great attitude- Thank YOU!!!


So we are off... MINI everywhere! Say goodbye to Baltimore, and Hello to Pittsburgh! Our pit stop today is Mr. Ed's Elephant Museum. Well that should be interesting!


Our MINI route took us through quaint little towns where the people must have been told about us coming because it was like a parade through these towns, and families would be outside waving to all of us as we passed by.

On our route I had an opportunity to do some of my Drive-by photos. Not the easiest thing to do, but it's what I am known for. Here's a couple interesting ones.



On the way to Mr. Ed's we passed through Gettysburg, and we just had to make an extra pit stop. This is one place I would love to go back to, and visit. There is so much history here, and just the short time we walked through the monuments didn't give us much opportunity to explore. We will be coming back here!

Now on to Mr. Ed's Elephant Museum!

This was a surprise... as we drove up each MINI was given a Chinese container to fill with candy. Mr Ed's Elephant museum was also a candy store! Just want we needed, a little sugar.  We filled our containers, and enjoy a few moments of strangely decorated yard. This was a great Surprise and Delight!








Now that we have extra energy... off to Pittsburgh, but first we will stop at the Flight 93 Memorial that is on the way.

I didn't expect this stop to affect me as much as it did. It was like we were reliving Sept. 11 all over again. All the memories of that day came back, with all the emotions and disbelief it brought with it. What a beautiful memorial to those that lost their life. As you look over the site where the plane impacted the ground there are wild flowers that soften the impact of that tragic day. I felt like the flowers where the souls that were lost that day coming back year after year to bring beauty back into our world.

Leaving there you left with such a heavy heart.... there's just no more that words can say.

And so we are finally off to Pittsburgh. I will have to say today has been the best sight-seeing day we have had. We will be a little late getting to our event tonight, but it was worth it.

Our event was held at the baseball stadium... no game, but we had a great time enjoying the sunset!

 Early evening tonight... it's been a really long four days! Time to catch up on some sleep before we head to Detroit in the morning.

Yes... we are continuing on to Detroit, and St Ignace. Having the time of our life, and just can't stop!


More photos from today!









]]> (Mari Miller Photography) MINI Takes The States MINI USA MINI. Mari Miller Photography Mini Life Design and Photography Twiggy mtts2016 Tue, 12 Jul 2016 06:56:00 GMT
Day 3: We Made It This Far We begin day three in Richmond at the Richmond International Raceway. We've now been on the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, and now Richmond.... could MTTS get any better?

I think there is more MINI here in Richmond than any of the other cities... we were lucky that some how we showed up, and was sixth in line to get into the speedway.



We had time to actually set down and enjoy breakfast, enter for a few raffles, and play corn hole.

Also.... remember I said I thought we were breaking some law in Charlotte? Turns out that we were.... and we weren't alone, but we were warned in Richmond that we couldn't go over 20mph. Do not go on the bank, and absolutely no passing. Ooops!

As we take to the track today we notice that this track is quite a bit smaller than the previous ones. I don't want to say my excitement was down, but the exhaustion was really setting in. Early morning starts, and six plus hour drives with an event in the evening!


We had a fun 'parade lap' around the track, and it gave me opportunity to snap a few photos of the MINI behind us.

Our track time was short, but another great morning start... now off to the Surprise and Delight. This will be a really cool pit stop today, and we are looking forward to it!

Yep.. . it's where Tim Smith makes his Climax Moonshine. You know from the Moonshiners! Well if you don't watch the shop it's where we live... in the mountains of Western North Carolina where we have moonshine.

This is the owner of the distillery... Chuck. He gave us a tour through the distillery, and was very entertaining!

Some of us had a sampling of the moonshine that is made there... but we choose not to drink and drive. Off to lunch in Culpepper!

We found a great lunch spot in Culpepper called Grill 309 with a couple of friends then we were off to Baltimore for an evening at the B&O Railroad Museum.  I will have to say that the food, music, and place was the best so far! Being in Baltimore they did it right with the best crab cakes, and a variety of food.. not to mention an open bar!

Did I say we went to Baltimore? Woke up in Richmond, and decided to go one more city... we are just loving MTTS! I have a feeling we are going to Detroit, but each day we decide if we should continue.


More photos from the day!


We met Sherry... she didn't have a place to stay for the night, and we had an extra room so we had a guest!



]]> (Mari Miller Photography) MINI Takes The States MINI USA MINI. Mari Miller Photography Mini Life Design and Photography Twiggy mtts2016 Tue, 12 Jul 2016 00:50:00 GMT
Day 2: The Journey Continues Keep smiling..... and Waving even though you are completely exhausted. This is now Day 2, and we are leaving Charlotte headed for Richmond which will be our final stop.

Today we meet at the Charlotte Motor Speedway for our lap around the track... we hope!!

You can tell that this is going to be a BIG day.. MINI are everywhere again, and there is still so much excitement to drive on the race track. Atlanta was pretty cool, but Charlotte promises to be even better.

Arriving at the Speedway again there are the large tents, and lots of vendors.... and swag to be had! Every morning we have breakfast, and meet new MINI friends. Today I met face to face a lady that we have corresponded through social media for the past year, and because of MTTS we have the opportunity to talk in person.  

Sabastian, the MINI guy... greeted us each morning, and shared his 'special' button! Today would be his last day with us, but we will have our USA MINI person throughout our trip.  It's really awesome to meet, and talk to these guys... they truly showed a genuine interest in us.

AND it's time to "Start Your ENGINES" and take a lap around the track... We waited patiently for our turn. It's either that or run the 'pit crew' over.

Today we are ready for our run on the track...

Twiggy is going to give it all she has. Well not really, but we are going to have some fun!




Twiggy did some banking.... didn't go as fast as we wanted, but 85 mph is pretty good! Being in a convertible with a bank takes a little getting use to.

I think we may have broken some rules.... we passed between two MINI. Just a tad bit scary not knowing the abilities of the other drivers, but it was fun! We will be talking about this for a long time... WOW

Leaving the track each day we were greeted by other MINIacs. Not really sure who they were, but the waved us on our way. On to our next stop... for our Surprise and Delight!

Sadler's Truck Stop... and Checkered Flag MINI was there handing out water, and if you were one of the lucky ones you got a magnet as well!


So this wasn't the best 'pit stop', but it gave us time to catch up with some other MINI people, and a much needed bathroom break!



I just had to share this photo of the cutiest dog yet... besides the labs I saw sitting in the back seat of a Countryman. They looked like kids just sitting in the back seat. He was all decked out in his hat, and shoes!

Tonight we have a night on our own in Richmond, and we choose to go to the Hardywood Brewery where we met some new friends!

Tomorrow we are on our way to Baltimore..... wait I said we were stopping in Richmond. Well we had so much fun that we decided to go one more stop!


Here are more photos from the day!


]]> (Mari Miller Photography) MINI Takes The States MINI USA MINI. Mari Miller Photography Mini Life Design and Photography Twiggy mtts2016 Sun, 10 Jul 2016 20:24:00 GMT
Day 1: Let's Get Motoring on MTTS

Today is the day.... Rise and Shine at 6:30 am at Atlanta Motor Speedway. I have no idea what to expect. How many MINI? What time should we arrive? Am I see people we know? Are we really going to go on the race track?

Not really knowing the answers to all the questions we decided to just go with it. Our hotel was just a short ten minute drive, and we arrive right at 6:30 along with hundreds of other MINI.  I am so overwhelmed by seeing everyone. MINI coming in from the side, they are in front of us... behind us! The excitement continues to build as we go through the tunnel, and actually enter the in track infield. WHAT! It's really happening!

We are greeted by the 'pit crew' dressed in the official MINI t-shirts and flags that go from green to checkered as you reach the end. The pit crew motioned us to park, within inches on all sides, of other MINI. I can't sit still the excitement is just about to explode inside me. As soon as we are parked I am out of Twiggy. The first thing I notice is that my shoes are sticking to the track.... I am squealing with excitement that I AM ACTUALLY ON THE RACE TRACK!!! After a moment I calmed myself down (kind of) and heading towards the MTTS bus as well as huge groups of people.

I am here. it's like being in a daze... a dream. It's everything that I imagined, and then lots more.

There were vendors... our local MINI dealers, and others had tents set up with swag and opportunity to win other prizes. Where do you start... well according to my other half we should start with breakfast. Ok... ok I agreed, but I carried my breakfast because there was no time to stop and eat. There was way too much to see, and too many MINI friends that I have to met.

 When the official start of MTTS began we all went to take a seat in the stands... all but me I had to stand at the fence in anticipation of what was going to happen next. I wasn't let down at all... the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. I don't know about you but hearing that song always brings tears to my eyes, and fills my heart with such pride. Then after the welcoming we look to the sky, and see skydivers. Hummm where will they land... wait this is MTTS, and where else would they land but in a MINI. That's right not one, but two landed on the back of a MINI convertible right in front of my eyes!









ITS OFFICIALLY STARTED... we all head out to our MINI in anticipation of 'taking the tract'. Of course, I couldn't sit still I was up, and about meeting people, taking pictures, and just trying to keep calm.

The time has come... 'start your engines' , and it was our turn to drive the track. If you were anywhere near me you could hear my squeals of excitement. We actually were given the checkered flag by no other than the head of MINI. We are off... should we go fast, drive the banks although we've been warned that if you drive the banks to slow oil change could create an issue. That's fine... we drove fast! The thrill. I can't even begin to express the excitement on driving on the track, and going on the bank. Remember we were in a convertible! I never wanted this moment to end.

Great lap around the track, and lots of memories have started... just wondering what the next day will be like! 

That's the 'big guy' from MINI..,. he flew here from Germany to see why all of are so crazy about our MINI... I think he found out the answer!

We were trying out the bank.... testing our boundaries!


After our 'parade lap' ... it was time to head out to our Surprise and Delight in Ridgeway SC. Our local club were going to do their own run, but at this point we decided that instead of staying with the group of MINI people that we know that we would venture out on our own, and meet as many new MINI friends as we could. We would met up morning, and night with our friends but in between was going to be time to met other

On our way we just happened upon a place that was used in the movie "My Cousin Vinny"... how could we not stop?








Our Surprise and Delight was at a tea room, and if you know me at all you know I love this kind of thing. The quaint little town on maybe 3000 didn't know what hit them. We came in, and took over!

What a great stop... we had the BEST iced tea ever! In a MINI cup made it even better.








So refreshing!!!  Now on to our finally stop tonight... Charlotte.

Tonight we get to visit the Nascar Hall of Fame, and meet up with some more of our MINI friends.

Tomorrow we get to drive the Charlotte track!!!




]]> (Mari Miller Photography) mini life designs photography mini on the states mtts 2016 Sat, 09 Jul 2016 22:42:00 GMT
The Night Before.... MTTS

You know that anxiousness that you feel when something BIG is coming? That just about described the anticipation for MINI Takes The States, and finally after two years it all starts tomorrow.

To those reading this that have no idea what I am talking about... and think I've have gone a little crazy. Crazy for a little imported car TWIGGY, my chili red MINI Cooper convertible. In short, MTTS or MINI Takes The States is the largest gathering on MINI Coopers that travel a predetermined route through lots of states raising money for a charity. This event is only held every two years, and this year we started in Atlanta then onto Charlotte-Richmond-Baltimore-Pittsburgh-Detroit-St Ignace-Greenbay-Minneapolis-Sioux Falls-Sturgis-Cheyenne-Park City-Las Vegas- and ends in Palm Springs California. 15 cities in 15 days from July 9 through July 23, 2016, and along the way raised thousands for the charity Feeding America.

This was my first year attending the event, and I had no idea what to expect. I read lots of post on social media on what to bring, and mostly planning... Because I travel on a regular basis, and can leave in a moments notice I thought 'heck with planning' I wanted to just hop in my MINI, and take off. So I had a duffle bag with clothes, enough for a couple of days... because we only plan on three cities (as you read other blog post you'll see how plans change!). With just a week before MTTS I finally had hotel rooms booked for Atlanta, and Richmond with one night in Charlotte with a friend.  What else would you need.. didn't worry about putting my daily route sheets in a binder or being organized at all. I wanted to experience MTTS, and leave the organization to everyone else. My goal was to meet for the morning event (Rise & Shine), and where I go between there and the next city was going to be an adventure!

This is us.. Craig and Mary Miller aka Twiggy's parents!

The night before the event started in Atlanta we attended the pre-party at The Ponce City Market in Atlanta. As we drove in you could start seeing one, two, three.... twenty MINI, and soon the parking lots of the Ponce Market was full. Every space taken, and even rows of MINI parked down the isle between the parked ones. MINI had taken over Atlanta or at least Ponce City Market. We socialized outside meeting face to face with social media friends, hanging out with club friends, and just enjoying a few hours of good times!

After catching up with old friends, and getting to know new ones. . It was time for the MINI balloon light show featuring the United States premiere of French digital art lab Collectif Coin's performance of "Childhood (Cyclique 2.0)," an immersive light and sound experience.

It took the crew hours to set up hundred of balloons that were synchronized to the music. As the music started MINI balloons began lighting, and dancing to the music. A great display to end one evening, and send us all on our way on MTTS.



All in all we had a great first evening, and tomorrow we will arrive bright and early at Atlanta Speedway for our lap around the track before heading to our next destination.

This isn't Twiggy.... but for the next ??? days we will be following a MINI!


Here's a few more photos of the MTTS Pre-party at Ponce City Market




]]> (Mari Miller Photography) MINI Takes The States MINI USA MINI. Mari Miller Photography Mini Life Design and Photography Twiggy mtts2016 Fri, 08 Jul 2016 21:14:00 GMT
MINI & Me shootings MINI and Me Shootings

I have a true love for the MINI Cooper, and just like most of us I have a favorite. Give me a JWC (that's John Cooper Works) with a manual six speed, and I'm in heaven.  According to some the MINI Cooper was designed for you to make it yours, and personalize it to YOU. A few weeks ago I had my first experience with a MINI club here in WNC and I originated the "Drive by Shooting" ... you should have heard the response on the radios when I asked if I could do a drive by shooting! Why not have a little fun doing what you love?

That was a lot of fun, but what I love to do is photograph people. What better than to photograph their MINI's with them!

This MINI Cooper S which happens to be named Courtney Love because you have to name your car, and this one has lots of attitude!

2013 I think this driver also has an attitude, and who could blame her--- Have you driven a MINI Cooper? No, well then you'll never understand.

2013 Ok, so you don't want your photo with your MINI.... well I'm sure there's not many of you, but just in case I also photograph just your MINI.

This was taken around 1 a.m. after a drive through the Smoky Mountains

Photo taken on the Tail of the Dragon.... MINI Cooper's just love speed and curves.  Check out those curves!

At Fontana Lake!


What to wear for your MINI shooting?

These are professional photo sessions, and you should wear what reflects your personality. Match your MINI's personality. Like the above MINI and Me shooting, she wore a leather jacket that went perfect with the attitude of her car as well as herself. The choice is yours... and what you choose will affect the outcome of the session.

Want to schedule your private MINI and Me Shooting, just send me an email!

Mari Miller Photography

Sessions available on location


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]]> (Mari Miller Photography) MINI Cooper MINI and Me shootings MINI shootings Me and My MINI Wed, 24 Jun 2015 22:30:14 GMT
MINI weekend This past weekend I was invited to join the Appalachian Mountain Mini's event Bonnet, Boot and Brew Rally.... WOW was I in for a surprise!

We also own a MINI Cooper JCW (John Cooper Works) as well as another MINI Cooper S, and we always thought about joining a car club to share our same excitement with others.  After this past weekends events of driving, eating and socializing- we are hooked!

Day 1 of the Bonnet, Boot and Brew Rally

Day 1 began at the Days Inn in North Asheville and headed up to an elevation of 5,722 ft to Mt. Pisgah which was named after the biblical mountain from which Moses first saw the promise land. At the top we stopped in hopes of seeing spectacular views of Asheville about 16 miles away, but with the rain and fog there was little to see.  All the MINI's, about 14 of us... drove through the twisties, over and through the mountains then continue along the French Broad River that lead us through the countryside to the Sierra Nevada Brewery where we had an amazing dinner, and a great evening with new friends.

Rainy and Fog beginning to the AMM Rally

Day 2 began really early at 9am... well not early for most, but we live an hour away so we were up and going at 7! This would be the longest of the weekend with two challenging and spirited runs.

The first run was the Elk Mountain “S”cenic Photo Run.  M15_4666Mari Miller PhotographyHeeeeerrrrreeeeee Weeeee Gooooooo.... It took a while to figure out what the "S"cenic Photo was, but once we were there and the cars where in place it was easy to understand. This particular road has several tight "S" turns and we tried to accomplish a photo that showed all the turns, but a photo just doesn't show what we experienced.

Mari Miller Photography"S"cenic photo

It was a day full of fun as all the MINI's cruised along the high peaks on the mountains of Western North Carolina. Our adventure followed the Elk Mountain Scenic Highway, and then continued through Possum Trot Creek and followed along the Cane River on NC-19W. Then onto Spivey Mountain Road on the Tennessee side where our MINI's enjoyed quite a few twisties throughout the mountains. The last leg of the run took us onto NC-352, which is called the Old Asheville Highway. At this point my photography inspirations kicked in.... a little drive by shootings of each car!  So my husband the great driver he is, drove up beside each car and I was able to capture a photo for each one of them... some were a little more challenging than others, especially the lead driver (no names). I won't disclose the speeds it took to reach him, but let's just say our little MINI was very happy!

MariMillerPhoto11MariMillerPhoto11One of the Drive by Shootings MariMillerPhoto19MariMillerPhoto19Another Drive by Shooting of the group leader

Here is the whole group from Saturday's morning run.

MariMillerPhoto36MariMillerPhoto36The whole group from Saturdays morning run

The afternoon rally run traveled through the countryside of Western North Carolina passing farms of Leicester, up and down some tight twisties into Hot Springs.  Some of us... yes even us, enjoyed the newly paved part of the road to Hot Springs... those were some great curves, and lots of tire squeals were heard.  I'm impressed at the driving ability of MINI people!  The ride back to Asheville took us through some relaxing roads before we all went our separate ways.

MariMillerPhoto3MariMillerPhoto3 Day 3... Last day of all the MINI fun!  This rustic drive twisted through some rural parts of Western North Carolina leading all the MINIAC's to the historic Lake Lure, the Green River Gorge, and some historical highways.  Finally we finished our Rally through some fun twisties in the back woods and ended up in Black Mountain where we stopped and had lunch at The Monte Vista.

One MINIAC summed it up best~

3 Days.....
4 runs.....
3 States.....
20+ Mini's.....
500+ Miles motored-
not counting the extra miles we drove to get there!

What an amazing weekend photographing and meeting new friends. I truly enjoyed the adventure and look forward to more events with this group!

I just wanted to say a "MINI" Thank YOU to those of you that spent hours, and probably days getting ready for the Bonnet, Boot and Brew Rally ~ Patrick and Judith, Alan, Wendy, Benjamin, Theo and Corey! To my fellow photographer Jeff... so GREAT to have someone taking photos of me- Thank you, Thank YOU!

To all the MINIAC's it was so much fun, and we enjoyed our time this weekend getting to know each of you. I hope that I was able to capture at least one shot of each of you during the event... especially the "Drive by Shooting". I look forward to sharing other fun times, and photos. You can always find me at Mari Miller Photography. Thank you for showing us a great MINI weekend!

Photo by Jeff GoodmanThis is us.... photo by Jeff Goodman!

Thanks Jeff Goodman for the photo!












]]> (Mari Miller Photography) AMM Appalachian Cooper MINI Mini Mini's Mountain Tue, 16 Jun 2015 16:47:36 GMT
Family Photo Sessions DSC_0850DSC_0850 Try and follow the “Three Colors + POP” rule:

1.  Pick three colors (one being a neutral)  and put together outfits with those colors only.  More than three colors can seem a bit busy.  Examples would be navy blue (dark wash blue jeans), gray, and mustard yellow. Neutrals include black, white, gray, khaki, etc.

2.  Add in an unexpected POP of color.  Add a pop of color by adding a colorful scarf or shoes.  Be aware that this POP will become a focal point in the picture, so I wouldn’t advise adding this color in an area that you don’t want others to look at too closely. 

{I must make a disclaimer: RULES CAN BE BROKEN.  These guidelines generally work well to produce a cohesive, vibrant family portrait; a modern take on the whole “white shirts and blue jeans”, if you will.}

Other tips:

1.  Think coordinating, not matching.  Again, unless you have a specific purpose for the entire family to match (white shirts and jeans/Khaki) , try to not match outfits exactly (although matching twins or little ones is generally good because it’s so darn cute). You can accomplish the same look as the white shirts and jeans by using a Blue & White palette.  Keep it simple with different shades of blue and white.  Incorporate different patterns and texture for added interest.

2.  Try and pick colors that complement the surrounding environment.  Pick colors that will compliment your style and your home. Navy & Yellow palette-  Use navy and different shades of blues as your base, then just add pops of white and yellow for added interest.

3.  Use your brightest colors as accessories.  You don’t want the brightest colors detracting from the most important part of the picture:  the PEOPLE!

4.  It is ok to mix solids and simple patterns.  SIMPLE patterns add interest and texture to a picture.  If the guys have patterned, buttoned-down shirts it works just fine with the solid colors.  If you stick to a color scheme, everything just naturally blends together. Large family or multi-family group photos should devise a plan prior to your session. Each family should try to coordinate with everyone and mixing in the neutrals for a cohesive group photo. To simplify this, choose bright or light colors in basic colors: Light colors in Aqua & Coral-  I think this is the perfect color combination for beach pictures.  Add in some grays, browns, or whites for your neutrals. ; Bright colors in Navy & Green-  Pair a deep navy with a bright kelly green for a fun, springtime look.  Pops of yellow or pink would be fun to add too.

So, that’s it!  Hopefully, the above tips will help you do a little advance planning for what to wear for family photo shoots to create a beautiful family portrait you can be proud of.



Thanks to for the below "What to wear" photos:


1.  Turquoise & Yellow-These fun, bright colors just scream “Spring!”  Add in some grays and whites as neutrals and you’re set.

2.  Aqua & Coral-  I think this is the perfect color combination for beach pictures.  Add in some grays, browns, or whites for your neutrals.

3.  Blue & White-  Keep it simple with different shades of blue and white.  Incorporate different patterns and texture for added interest. 


4.  Navy & Coral-  Navy, coral, and white are a great combination alone- or you could add some pops of aqua or gray too.

5.  Navy & Green-  Pair a deep navy with a bright kelly green for a fun, springtime look.  Pops of yellow or pink would be fun to add too.

6.  Navy & Yellow-  Use navy and different shades of blues as your base, then just add pops of white and yellow for added interest.

]]> (Mari Miller Photography) Fri, 15 May 2015 23:12:43 GMT
10 Tips Your Wedding Photographer Wants You to Know 1. Consider an engagement session. A pre-wedding session will help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera.  And, it will prepare your photographer for your wedding day by allowing her to see how you two interact, and get a feel for your best features.


2. Plan your morning carefully. 
 Choose a room with abundant natural light to get ready in. If possible, choose a room with neutral colors, and try to keep things neat and tidy throughout the morning. This will help your photos stay cohesive and clean-looking. If details are important to you, have everything you’d like photographed laid out and waiting for your photographer — a full invitation set, special jewelry, a vintage handkerchief, etc.

3. Share your morning.  “Specifically invite your closest loved ones to be with you when you’re getting ready for your wedding. And encourage them to get totally ready beforehand, because most people like photos of themselves more when they look their best. It could be your mom, dad, a special relative, or simply your closest friends, but I love the idea of intentionally making them feel special by sharing those moments with them.” This is a wonderful way to create an opportunity for those spontaneous, sweet, intimate moments to happen — the ones we want captured on our wedding day, but can’t really plan for.


4. Create a generous timeline.  If photographs are important to you, build in as much time as possible for them. Generally speaking, the more time your photographer has with you, the better the photos she/he will be able to produce. If you’re not sure how much time you’ll need for portraits, check with your photographer.

5. Consider doing a first look. I completely respect those who want to see their significant other for the first time at the end of the aisle, but if you and your fiancé are ambivalent, I’d definitely consider doing a first look. That way, you can take care of the majority, if not all, of the formal family groupings pre-ceremony, leaving extra time for bride and groom portraits or to attend cocktail hour post-ceremony.

6. Do not create a ridiculous shot list. Please, for the love of sweet tea, do not create a shot list with specific poses or moments. (You know the ones I’m talking about: they include things like “Dad whispering last minute advice to groom” and “bride’s parents whispering to each other during dinner.”) Remember why you hired your photographer, trust her, and give her room to let her creativity shine.


7. DO create a formal shot list. On the other hand, it’s important to think carefully about the formal groupings that you’d like captured either pre- or post-ceremony. Try to keep the list to ten or fewer combinations (i.e. bride and groom with bride’s parents, bride and groom with all siblings) to avoid impatience and stress. When you give the list to your photographer, be sure to include names — this will help her direct the portrait session smoothly and kindly!


8. Communicate with the VIPs. Once you’ve got that great shot list, be sure to share it with all the people involved. Email them a copy in advance; print out more copies for the day of – whatever it takes! Make sure they know where to be, when to be there, and what they should be wearing so you’re not scrambling after everyone on the big day.

9. Plan for capturing the details. In addition to gorgeous portraits, many of you want your photographers to capture the details you’ve worked so hard on. This requires communication, too! If possible, work with your planner/venue/special helpers to set up the reception space as early as possible, so that your photographer can snap the details either pre-ceremony or during cocktail hour, before guests have entered the space and ideally while there’s still natural light outside.


10. Ask questions. My last tip for working with your photographer? Ask them! “Is there anything I can do to help you do your job better?” Photographers, like all wedding vendors, try their hardest to be flexible, and they’ll do the best they can under whatever circumstances they find themselves in. But, if you do what you can to provide the optimal environment, they’ll probably produce their optimal results. 

]]> (Mari Miller Photography) Blue Ridge Parkway wedding photography Smoky Mountain wedding photography WNC Wedding biker wedding Thu, 16 Apr 2015 18:09:35 GMT
Marriage Isn't "Happy Ever After"

Marriage Isn't "Happy Ever After", it's not a storybook or fairytale. Marriage is HARD work! It's two people that make a choice every day to 'love' each other.  To overlook the little things that well, if you think about won't make a difference in a month anyhow! This isn't my list, but in my daily reading and going through social media I came across and wanted to share. If you know the creator, please let me know and I will definitely give them credit for it. 

I witness weddings on a regular basis, photographing and being apart of the engagement through the reception and I often wonder what they think marriage is all about.  I've been married for, in a couple weeks, for 29 years. We have three children and three grandchildren and throughout our marriage there have been the happiest of times and then there have been the worst of times as well as the times where we have just lived.

Our marriage vows have been tested and yet we have made a commitment to each other all those years ago and no matter what- We love each other! There is not a perfect person and we all make mistakes but what is important is that you 'together' get through them. Marriage is not a throw-away, it's worth fighting for- especially if you are perfect for each other!


ADVICE from a Husband... and what every women wishes for!

1. Never stop courting. Never stop dating. NEVER EVER take that woman for granted. When you asked her to marry you, you promised to be that man that would OWN HER HEART and to fiercely protect it. This is the most important and sacred treasure you will ever be entrusted with. SHE CHOSE YOU. Never forget that, and NEVER GET LAZY in your love.

2. Protect your own heart. Just as you committed to being the protector of her heart, you must guard your own with the same vigilance. Love yourself fully, love the world openly, but there is a special place in your heart where no one must enter except for your wife. Keep that space always ready to receive her and invite her in, and refuse to let anyone or anything else enter there.

3. Fall in love over and over again. You will constantly change. You’re not the same people you were when you got married, and in five years you will not be the same person you are today. Change will come, and in that you have to re-choose each other everyday. SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO STAY WITH YOU, and if you don’t take care of her heart, she may give that heart to someone else or seal you out completely, and you may never be able to get it back. Always fight to win her love just as you did when you were courting her.

4. Always see the best in her. Focus only on what you love. What you focus on will expand. If you focus on what bugs you, all you will see is reasons to be bugged. If you focus on what you love, you can’t help but be consumed by love. Focus to the point where you can no longer see anything but love, and you know without a doubt that you are the luckiest man on earth to be have this woman as your wife.

5. It’s not your job to change or fix her… your job is to love her as she is with no expectation of her ever changing. And if she changes, love what she becomes, whether it’s what you wanted or not.

6. Take full accountability for your own emotions: It’s not your wife’s job to make you happy, and she CAN’T make you sad. You are responsible for finding your own happiness, and through that your joy will spill over into your relationship and your love.

7. Never blame your wife if you get frustrated or angry at her, it is only because it is triggering something inside of YOU. They are YOUR emotions, and your responsibility. When you feel those feelings take time to get present and to look within and understand what it is inside of YOU that is asking to be healed. You were attracted to this woman because she was the person best suited to trigger all of your childhood wounds in the most painful way so that you could heal them… when you heal yourself, you will no longer be triggered by her, and you will wonder why you ever were.

8. Allow your woman to just be. When she’s sad or upset, it’s not your job to fix it, it’s your job to HOLD HER and let her know it’s ok. Let her know that you hear her, and that she’s important and that you are that pillar on which she can always lean. The feminine spirit is about change and emotion and like a storm her emotions will roll in and out, and as you remain strong and unjudging she will trust you and open her soul to you… DON’T RUN-AWAY WHEN SHE’S UPSET. Stand present and strong and let her know you aren’t going anywhere. Listen to what she is really saying behind the words and emotion.

9. Be silly… don’t take yourself so damn seriously. Laugh. And make her laugh. Laughter makes everything else easier.

10. Fill her soul everyday… learn her love languages and the specific ways that she feels important and validated and CHERISHED. Ask her to create a list of 10 THINGS that make her feel loved and memorize those things and make it a priority everyday to make her feel like a queen.

11. Be present. Give her not only your time, but your focus, your attention and your soul. Do whatever it takes to clear your head so that when you are with her you are fully WITH HER. Treat her as you would your most valuable client. She is.

12. Be willing to take her sexually, to carry her away in the power of your masculine presence, to consume her and devour her with your strength, and to penetrate her to the deepest levels of her soul. Let her melt into her feminine softness as she knows she can trust you fully.

13. Don’t be an idiot…. And don’t be afraid of being one either. You will make mistakes and so will she. Try not to make too big of mistakes, and learn from the ones you do make. You’re not supposed to be perfect, just try to not be too stupid.

14. Give her space… The woman is so good at giving and giving, and sometimes she will need to be reminded to take time to nurture herself. Sometimes she will need to fly from your branches to go and find what feeds her soul, and if you give her that space she will come back with new songs to sing…. (okay, getting a little too poetic here, but you get the point. Tell her to take time for herself, ESPECIALLY after you have kids. She needs that space to renew and get re-centered, and to find herself after she gets lost in serving you, the kids and the world.)

15. Be vulnerable… you don’t have to have it all together. Be willing to share your fears and feelings, and quick to acknowledge your mistakes.

16. Be fully transparent. If you want to have trust you must be willing to share EVERYTHING… Especially those things you don’t want to share. It takes courage to fully love, to fully open your heart and let her in when you don’t know i she will like what she finds… Part of that courage is allowing her to love you completely, your darkness as well as your light. DROP THE MASK… If you feel like you need to wear a mask around her, and show up perfect all the time, you will never experience the full dimension of what love can be.

17. Never stop growing together… The stagnant pond breeds malaria, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Atrophy is the natural process when you stop working a muscle, just as it is if you stop working on your relationship. Find common goals, dreams and visions to work towards.

18. Don’t worry about money. Money is a game, find ways to work together as a team to win it. It never helps when teammates fight. Figure out ways to leverage both persons strength to win.

19. Forgive immediately and focus on the future rather than carrying weight from the past. Don’t let your history hold you hostage. Holding onto past mistakes that either you or she makes, is like a heavy anchor to your marriage and will hold you back. FORGIVENESS IS FREEDOM. Cut the anchor loose and always choose love.

20. Always choose love. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. In the end, this is the only advice you need. If this is the guiding principle through which all your choices is governed, there is nothing that will threaten the happiness of your marriage. Love will always endure.

In the end marriage isn’t about happily ever after. It’s about work. And a commitment to grow together and a willingness to continually invest in creating something that can endure eternity. Through that work, the happiness will come. Marriage is life, and it will bring ups and downs. Embracing all of the cycles and learning to learn from and love each experience will bring the strength and perspective to keep building, one brick at a time.

]]> (Mari Miller Photography) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:01:17 GMT
Engagement with Your Pet! Have you considered doing your engagement photos with your dog? Pets are such an integral part of our lives, and quite frankly, they make such cute subjects for photos!

Engagement Photos with Your Dog

Tips for Doing Photos With Your Dog

1. Bring along rewards and distractions.
Pets don’t work for free! If you can bring along some of their extra favorite treats or a favorite toy to get their attention, they’ll have a much better time.  There is nothing that a dog loves more than the most annoying squeaky ball you own.



2. Bring a leash
Your dog may always be by your side. However, when we start to take engagement photos with your dog, there could be some distractions…SQUIRREL!! So, it’s always a good practice to keep your dog on leash at all times. We can always hide the leash, or even Photoshop it out after the fact if it’s distracting.


3. Bring a friend that the dog knows.
As much as we all love our pets, they can’t be the star of every photo. So, I ask every couple to bring along a friend who the dog feels comfortable with. That way, that person is taking care of the dog while I’m taking photos of you.

If I bring along an assistant, they are there to help me with the photos and aren’t responsible for the dog. The car is not a place to leave the dog either, no matter what time of year.


4. Take the dog for a long walk beforehand.
A tired dog always makes for better pictures. There is always that excitement and anticipation when a dog goes for a car ride. There are so many smells to check out when they get out of the car. The last thing the dog is going to want to do is lay down for photos.

I usually recommend to do the photos with the couple first, while your friend takes the dog for a long, long walk. After he’s had a chance to check out everything, we can do the engagement photos with your dog.


5. Enjoy the photo session.
Most of all have fun. Don’t worry if your dog isn’t “smiling”. It takes a little bit of patience, but we will definitely get their personality to come through.

Dogs are always reading their masters and if they know you are having fun, they’ll settle in and have fun too!

Wedding Photos with your Dog
Many of the same suggestions also apply when it comes to having your dog as part of your wedding. Just make sure that there is someone who can watch your dog all day. It’s fun to have them at some point during your wedding. However, I’d suggest that there is also a place that they can go to escape the hustle and bustle of the day.

Also, make sure that your dogs were recently groomed, so that their nails are filed. The last thing you want is your dog tearing your dress with their sharp nails.

]]> (Mari Miller Photography) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:39:19 GMT
Mother's Day Contest

Just in time for Mother's Day.... Would you like to WIN a photo session with your mom? Mari Miller Photography is giving you that opportunity. Rules are very simple....
1. Like this page and share (
2. Send me an email or Facebook message what your MOM means to you. (email:

Prizes include:

  1. a custom photo session on location (location is subject to my availability to travel!). Photo session with... mom can be substituted with a family session!
  2. Framed 11x14 photo of your choice from session
  3. Complete set of 4x6 prints from the session.
  4. Non-transferrable, no exchange or credit for future sessions.
  5. Winner must use prior to 12/31/2015 
  6. Value of prize $600, without travel.
  7. Mothers= Stepmoms, Grandma's, Aunts or the one that person that was important in your life!

Winner will be notified April 30, 2015 and will be selected from the entries received.




]]> (Mari Miller Photography) Sat, 21 Mar 2015 19:13:12 GMT
Girls best friend. . .Glitter

I spent the day yesterday with a local artist that was practicing her glitter body art. The artist recruited several teenage girls to dress up in prom gowns and have their arms adorned with glitter. The girls were there but not so inspired to dress up in fancy prom gowns - it was late in the afternoon, right after school. Who would blame them! Here's the result of the glitter session. . enjoy!!

]]> (Mari Miller Photography) Fri, 13 Mar 2015 19:03:51 GMT
Hinshaw Family I had the opportunity of doing the Hinshaw's family photo session while they were vacationing here in the mountains of North Carolina.  They anticipated beautiful fall colors and weather, what they got was the earliest snow fall in over 50 years... almost 5"! 


All the 'typical' locations that I would photography a family session were no longer accessible and plan B had to implemented... so I choose one of the prettiest places, the Smokey Mountain National Park. Although most of the colors were gone, there was one beautiful 'orange' tree with perfect fall leaves for our session.

 Hinshaw Family

We were able to capture several great family photos as well as individual family photos.  Below is a few from their session.

DSC_0831DSC_0831 DSC_0850DSC_0850 DSC_0896DSC_0896 DSC_0866DSC_0866

































]]> (Mari Miller Photography) Chalet Hinshaw Lake Suzanne Wales Tue, 04 Nov 2014 20:57:34 GMT
I am a Survivor! DSC_0505DSC_0505

It's hard to understand cancer unless you have gone through the experience. Meet a cancer survivor. . she has fought cancer and WON!

October is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and as part of the Shoot for a Cure photographers around the country photograph women and men that have or are facing breast cancer. 

This is Juliette... an amazing women that found breast cancer and won! Her story is simple but speak loudly to us women. Juliette went for her regular mammogram where they discovered she had breast cancer. She didn't let this hold her down, she went through surgery and now is cancer free. To all of the women out there- including procrastinating me, make an appointment for your regular mammogram and be a survivor like Juliette. 

Juliette, you are such a wonderful person and such an inspiration. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to spend time with you while we captured your spirit and are truly an inspiration to me!

]]> (Mari Miller Photography) Sat, 01 Nov 2014 22:22:48 GMT
Chris and Julia An amazing Bride and sparkling taste... The girls gathered in a private suite on Harbour Island preparing for the moment when Julia would met her Prince. With help from mom and her bridesmaids that she had met throughout the World, Julia had her makeup done and put on her beautiful jeweled wedding dress complete with blue shoes!


Then it was on to the wedding venue. The bridesmaids and Bride hopped on a chartered Trolley where they were whisked away to the Catholic Church. 











The ceremony, very traditional was a symbol and commitment to their love in front of family, friends and God.




















After their ceremony, the wedding party hopped on the trolley and was taken to the beautiful Don Vincente in Ybor City. The hotel has a history of being a prior hospital and is said to be haunted. The couple danced away the night before departing through a line of sparklers.



The theme throughout was done with cigar boxes which made for a great backdrop for their wedding ring.





Congratulations Julia and Chris!


]]> (Mari Miller Photography) Mon, 15 Sep 2014 23:26:11 GMT
Colonel Robert and Nancy Maglin Colonel Robert Maglin and his finance Nancy planned their wedding at the Historic Chalet Suzanne in Lake Wales, Florida.  What they wouldn't know was that they would be the last wedding hosted there. Chalet Suzanne is closing their doors to the public at the end of July as announced in their newsletter


Knowing that the Historic Chalet would be closing didn't hinder the couple in sharing their vows in front of family and friends. Their wedding was scheduled for the garden, but the Mother Nature had different plans and the ceremony was moved indoors.  This couple proves that Love has no age.

The couple and their guest enjoyed cocktails in the Lounge followed by the a menu of Prime Rib and Salmon. All prepared to the Chalet Suzanne standards. Colonel Richard's son toasted the couple to many years of happiness, returning the toast that his father shared with him on his wedding day!

A little history was included in the Maglin's photos.. The Chalet Suzanne three wheel bike pedaled by the grandson and the couples friends and family posed in front of the famous inn. Thank you to the entire family that invited me into their family, you all are wonderful people and I am blessed to have met you!

Congratulations to

Colonel Richard and Nancy Maglin!

]]> (Mari Miller Photography) Central Chalet Colonel Florida Lake Maglin Photography Robert Suzanne Wales wedding Sun, 13 Jul 2014 00:17:29 GMT
Erikka and Jorge are Engaged! You hear people say "a photo is worth a thousand words".. This photo definitely says a thousand words!

Jorge prepares to propose to Erikka during a recent engagement session. Jorge hides the ring behind his back, waiting for the perfect moment to ask the BIG question.....

Will you marry me?

and the answer would be~  an absolute YES!

Here are a couple other photos that capture the love that they each have for the other.


The happy couple is planning an April 2015 wedding.


Congratulations to

Erikka and Jorge!

]]> (Mari Miller Photography) Sat, 12 Jul 2014 23:33:11 GMT