Ute Mahler completed her studies in photography at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig in 1974 and has worked as a freelance photographer ever since. She was a member of the Association of Visual Artists/Verband Bildender Künstler (VBK) from 1981 and founded the renowned OSTKREUZ - Agency of Photographers with six East German photographers in 1990. Since 2005, she has been a lecturer at the Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie in Berlin and held a professorship in photography at the University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg from 2000 to 2015. Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, her work was published in the GDR fashion magazine Sibylle, among others, and from 1989 she worked for national and international magazines. She has always pursued her own artistic projects (in addition to commissioned work and later teaching), since 2008 also together with her husband, the photographer Werner Mahler. Ute Mahler's work has been presented in numerous exhibitions worldwide, including the Haus der Photographie in Hamburg's Deichtorhallen, dedicating a large exhibition to the Mahlers work in 2014, which was shown enlarged in 2019 at the Fotomuseum Den Haag/Netherlands ("Beyond the Borders of the GDR").
The photographer has received numerous awards for her work; together with Werner Mahler, she received the Lotto Brandenburg Art Prize for Photography in 2011 and the German Photography Book Prize for the comprehensive publication "Werkschau" in 2015. In 2019, the Art Directors Club awarded Ute Mahler and Werner Mahler the ADC Silver Nail for their photography booklet "Deutsche Kleinstädte" ("Small German Towns") by Zeitmagazin. In the same year, the Mahlers were awarded the David Octavius Hill Medal by the German Photographic Academy. In 2013, Ute Mahler, together with 17 colleagues from the OSTKREUZ agency, received the Konrad Wolf Prize of the Academy of Arts for outstanding artistic achievement.