"I've never felt more like a woman" | Orange County Boudoir Studio | Mother's Day Celebration

I have been LOVING all the mamas in and out of the studio this past month, as we've been celebrating Mother's Day. Yes, yes...I *planned* to feature a beautiful Southern California mom on the blog each week this month, but, well, things got a little busy and I fell behind on my blogging schedule. I also NEVER feature a woman on the blog without her getting to see her images first and choose her favorites. So, screw it - we're going to celebrate all the way into June. 

Today, we are featuring Miss S. I had the pleasure of photographing her sister last year, who had such an amazing time that she told Miss S she just had to do this. As a photographer, that is seriously the highest compliment someone can give me. I found both of these women to be absolutely beautiful and genuinely good people.  I could ramble on and on, but I'll let her tell you about the experience herself. 

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"This is something I have been curious about in the past but never really thought I would have the guts to pursue. Then my sister told me about how great her experience was, and after seeing the amazing pictures I was hooked. I don't think I actually knew what exactly boudoir pictures were but after I saw how classy and tasteful Mandy's work was there was no question this was something I would definitely need to cross off my bucket list. I also wanted to be able to capture this time in my life. Becoming a mom has been such an amazing and life changing experience."

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"I did have my usual hang ups about my body that I had been carrying for years, like I always thought I had broad shoulders that made me feel I look like a line-backer, my moms hook nose and my super skinny legs but then I had a baby 6 months ago and that added a whole new list of things to feel insecure about, like my even bigger gut and that I no longer have a butt. But I figured Mandy knows what she's doing."

(As a boudoir photographer in Orange County I've come to hear many - often somewhat crazy - self perceived "flaws" that women see in themselves (i.e. line-back shoulders). I love being able to help women move past those insecurities and realize that NOBODY else sees those things in them, and learn to be a little kinder to themselves.)

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"I was so pleasantly surprised and relieved to see how relaxed and comfortable Mandy made the whole experience. She was so laid back and honest about what did and didn't work. And she really seemed to keep in mind all the hang ups I did have and reassured me she wouldn't do anything that made me uncomfortable or didn't look good on camera. She was also really clear during the shoot so there was no question as to what to do...she takes all the guess work out."

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"I have never felt as empowered as I did after that photo-shoot! I thought I would have felt a lot more nervous but as the shoot went on the more comfortable I felt. Once we were done there was not one part that I regretted and left feeling like I could do anything! Also it was a great excuse to get out of my granny panties I had been rocking since I got pregnant and treat myself to some cute panty sets that get me in a good mood every time I wear them."

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How did you feel when you saw your images?
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I think this was the part that I was the most nervous about. After the shoot I knew Mandy did everything to make my body look it's best but I was worried about what I had done with my face! Was I too stiff? Did I look relaxed enough? But once we got to the viewing session I should have known there was nothing to worry about. Mandy is a true professional, down to the little details. She started the [viewing] session with a cute video that got me right back into the mood I was in for the actual photo shoot, but this time all the hard work was done and it was time to just relax and enjoy the show. 

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"I'm not too proud to admit I was actually lead to tears, a reaction I was not expecting, especially since it was one of the last pictures that elicited such a strong response. It wasn't even the most 'flattering" and actually showcased what most would try to hide- my belly rolls! But at that moment they felt like such a badge of honor and I felt like such a Mom! It felt so honest, natural and real. I never felt more like a woman. It was such a relief to see how good all the photos came out, some sexy, some cute, some silly, all beautiful!"

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To any women reading this, considering their OWN boudoir experience...this is what Miss S has to say to you:

"Do it! Do it! Do it! I am a tomboy at heart and tend to keep it safe and comfortable but I'm so glad and proud that I got out of my comfort zone...And now I have amazing pictures to capture such a transformative time in my life.

The whole experience was Awesome! Mandy was Amazing! And the photos came out great! From her professionalism to her attention to detail you can tell she loves her craft and she loves bringing out the best in women! I loved the stories she told about her experience as a mother which led her to this work so you can tell she is genuine when working with other women and especially moms. Thank you for what you do Mandy."

What are you waiting for? What's holding you back? Let me help you work through those insecurities and learn to see yourself as others do - BEAUTIFUL. All you need to do is reach out, and I'll take it from there. 

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Mandy Merino Photography is a Fullerton, California based boudoir portrait studio. We're an all female staff specializing in fine-art style sexy, nude and intimate portraits in a loving and judgement free zone. Our clients come from all over Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego and through-out the Southern California area. We love photographing all women, but really love helping moms break out of day-to-day grind and reconnect with the sensual woman who hides within. 

Boudoir in the Bluegrass || Summer 2017 || Central Kentucky Photoshoot

Hello there, Bluegrass babes! Who's ready to feel beautiful & sexy in Central Kentucky? It's time once again for Mandy Merino Photography to bring her style of boudoir back to her hometown and give 'em all somethin' (else) to talk about. Amirite?  ;) Let's shake things up! Get ready to step outside your comfort zone, and reap the empowering rewards that come along with tackling your fears. I guarantee this to be an experience to leave you feeling gorgeous and a renewed sense of self confidence. 

Now booking sessions for June 2017 in Central Kentucky. Each session planned unique to YOU. You tell me about how you'd like to be photographed, and I'll plan an experience that's just for you.  Location will either be in-studio in Lexington, KY, or at an alternate location of your choosing (feeling outdoorsy?) If you want an outdoor location, I'll work with you to determine a suitable location.

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The following will be the only sessions offered in Kentucky for 2017: 

Sunday, June 25
9:00 a.m. - available
 2:30 p.m.  - booked 

Monday, June 26
9:00 a.m. - available
2:30 p.m.  - booked

Ready to find out more and reserve your spot? Feel free to browse the INFO page for pricing and details, or get in touch with me and let's talk through all your questions. 

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She hadn't felt sexy in years | Mother's Day Boudoir Celebration

It's May! A month full of holidays & celebrations - Star Wars Day, Cinco de Mayo, Kentucky Derby, National Burger Day, Memorial Day...but the most important one, is Mother's Day! I dunno, maybe it's the whole baby-in-my-uterus thing, but I've got moms on the brain in a big way this year and feel like celebrating motherhood ALL month long. 

I love photographing all women and making them feel beautiful, but I'll admit it - I have a special place in my heart for my mama clients. Probably because I am one and it was my rocky start at motherhood that actually lead me to the empowering world of boudoir photography. So, I decided to focus my blog on MOMS all month long. Each week I'll be featuring a different beautiful mama and her unique story. 

First up, we have Miss S. This lady here captured my heart in one single sentence in her very first email to me, "Honestly, I haven't felt sexy in....the PC answer is years....but the true answer is decades." UGH. That right there breaks my heart, and is why I do this. I'm positively certain that she's not alone with these feelings, and it's my mission to change the way so many women see themselves. To show them that they ARE beautiful and sexy. 

Sometimes we like to sneak a few headshots in too...you know, since you're all glammed up. 

What made you want to do a boudoir session? 

"I had been feeling for a while like it was time to break out of the norm, but I couldn’t quite figure out what that next step needed to be. I was a 50 year old, divorced, single mom - so much of my life was defined for me that I was feeling like I just wanted something that was me. 

I saw your post looking for women for a boudoir shoot and I thought - that’s it!  I had never considered a boudoir shoot before. I literally submitted an application before I had a chance to think about it. Once I hit send….I panicked.  I thought, who are you kidding Sandy? You are definitely not a boudoir model."

(You see, most of my clients don't walk in feeling like "models" who are ready to take it all off and have their photos taken. They're doing this because they don't, and they need a little pick-me-up.)

[On the day of the shoot, when I left the studio I felt...] 

"Liberated, like nothing was off limits now.

I was always that kid who followed the rules, colored inside the lines, raised my hand, finished my homework before playing. 

I did the same in adult life - married my college BF, had 3 kids, made my family my top priority. But then divorce, going back to work full time, and raising 3 boys alone - it felt like there was simply nothing left of me. And I had completely lost what it was like to be and feel desirable."

After seeing your photos and getting your heirloom box, how did it make you feel? Did it change the way you see yourself and your confidence? 

"Without a doubt, yes! Desire is in the mind. The photo shoot opened that door back up. 
Free the mind, the body will follow where ever you want it to go."

(Rawr! Yea, girl!)

What would you tell other women who are considering this experience for themselves? 

"Do it!  Do it now, Do it today, Do it for yourself. If you want to become the best version of you, you have to be willing to step outside of your box and go where it is uncomfortable.

There’s an old fable about the lobster.  The lobster stays in his “home” until he starts to outgrow it. He knows it’s time to shed it and build a new home when the old one becomes uncomfortable. Everything he tries to do becomes harder and harder with the old home. So, when he’s finally had enough, he sheds the old, crawls under a rock to retool a new one, and then emerges when it’s ready. He would never know he needed a new one without that discomfort."

"Doing the boudoir shoot with Mandy was my discomfort. But the funny thing was - the only discomfort I had was in making the decision. Because from there - Mandy made it so incredibly comfortable, I literally left her studio laughing at myself for making such a big deal out of it in my head."

Thank YOU, Miss S for sharing your story and photos with us. Helping you reclaim a portion of yourself that had been lost, gives me the warm and fuzzies. 

To all the mama's out there, I see you. I know how much this joyous life can give, and take of you. If you're in need of a day all to yourself, to reconnect with the WOMAN who is there at your core, lost in the daily grind of #momlife...get in touch. Mandy Merino Photography is a boudoir portrait studio located in Orange County, CA (with a trip to Central Kentucky on the books in June). We're dedicated to empowering women via intimate portraiture in a loving, empowering and judgement free space. It's way more than just sexy photos - it can be a life changing experience. Each session is planned unique to you, and your comfort zone. 

Trust Miss S - reaching out truly is the hardest part. After you send that initial email, I'll take care of you every step of the way. 

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Celebrating a healthy body image :: Orange County Boudoir Studio

Holy bombshell, Batman!

This gallery you're about to see, gives me so much creative life. When we planned this shoot, it was during our epic rainy season. We were aiming for a moody, rainy-day vibe and I was over-the-moon thrilled with the concept 'cause I loooove the rain. Especially here in Southern California where it's sunny roughly 300 days a year. The sun had a different idea that day, and decided to crash our shoot...in all the best ways. What we ended up with was glowing goddess bathing in golden afternoon light. Anyway, you're clearly not here to talk about the weather. 

Let's move on to more interesting things, like Miss A's session. When she told me she wanted to be my muse, I asked her how comfortable she was being nude. I'd really been dying to shoot a fine art nude boudoir session to add to my portfolio, and she was simply perfect for this. So much of the time I'm working with women who suffer with poor self-confidence and a negative body image. This time, it was so refreshing to work with a woman with self proclaimed "healthy confidence" and I'm here to so, YOU FUCKING GO GIRL! I'm so ready for self deprecation to be "out" and self love to be "in". When someone compliments you, raise your head high and say "THANK YOU" with confidence. Stop responding to compliments with "oh, but I hate my..." It's okay to love yourself. 

I'll get off my soapbox now, and move on to the good stuff. 

"I didn't really go into the shoot with any fears. I was pretty comfortable with the situation, and Mandy made it even easier because of her friendly, easygoing demeanor."

Favorite part of the experience?
Getting dressed up, feeling pretty. More excitement than a typical Tuesday afternoon.

"The shoot was pretty much what I expected, but the pics turned out better than my expectation!"

"Very impressed. The images turned out great, sexy and artistic, beautiful angles and lighting."

"I believe I am a person with a healthy confidence, I didn't have any personal breakthroughs due to the session. But, I think my boyfriend was very surprised and impressed with the fact that I did a shoot like that, and maybe now he views me in a more sensual light."

Get it, girl! I'm so excited for you to have these photos to look back on in 10, 20 even 30 years from now to remember this version of yourself. 

Are you ready to celebrate yourself, and learn to love the skin you're in? I'm here to tell you it's OKAY to have a positive body image. I want you to love every single image you see, and stop picking yourself apart. In fact, that's the one rule in my studio. I will not tolerate any negative talk of yourself. 

Let's talk. 

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Boss Babe Spotlight: LOVE MORE DECOR

Have you ever found someone on the internet, e-stalked them ever-so-slightly and just knew there was a friendship there – even if that person didn’t know you existed (yet)? This month’s boss babe spotlight was one of those people for me – in a totally non-creepy way.

In my personal pursuit to find a mommy group, I stumbled across Allison Serrao via her Meet-up group, OMG I’m a Mom. I read the group overview and blog, and instantly felt like I connected with this woman. She was open, honest, and spoke so truthfully about the realities of motherhood. After joining the group and getting to know her a bit more, I discovered my instincts were accurate.

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Not only is she a homeschooling mama of three little ones, but she’s a passionate philanthropist AND runs her own business – Love More Décor – along with her team of fellow boss moms. In addition to all of that, and whether she knows it or not – she’s inspiring and empowering so many mama’s and women through-out Orange County.

Let’s get to know a bit more about her, the team and what they do.

1. What is Love More Decor?

Love More Decor is a full service event and wedding production team of three creatives. We do everything from event design and execution to vendor management and wedding coordination! We offer wedding planning packages as well as a la carte services that you can use to create your own custom package catered to your specific needs. We are a pretty sweet package, we take care of all the fine details and handle everything from beginning to end. Our goal is for our clients to stress less and love more on the day they really should. 

 All photos by  Mandy Merino Photography  unless otherwise credited. 

All photos by Mandy Merino Photography unless otherwise credited. 

2. What was the inspiration for the business, or how did it get started?

My husband and I took a trip to Astoria, OR and stumbled upon an amazing storefront called Vintage Hardware. Paul and Rebecca who run the store are amazing creative designers who re-purpose and restore furniture and hardware and turn them into amazing design pieces. After visiting their store, it was decided that I wanted to come back and buy everything they had to start a decor rental company. So, months later, my husband and I flew out and drove home to CA in a UHAUL full of goodies. 

Since I have been doing events for the last 8 years and have always loved the grind of the planning, the designing, the producing and then finally seeing how everything we've worked on is finally executed, the next step for Love More Decor came naturally to start offering event coordination and planning. It's been nice to see our rentals and our clients leave hand in hand when working with them on their big day. 

3. Tell me a little bit about yourself (the owner), and your team.

My team is amazing! We are a three person machine when it comes to working together and we really know how to use our individual strengths. Our team consists of our Creative Manager, Ashlee, our Production Manager, Allie, and myself, Allison, the Event Director. 

 Pictured left to right: Ashlee, Allison & Allie. Photo credit: Mandy Merino Photography

Pictured left to right: Ashlee, Allison & Allie. Photo credit: Mandy Merino Photography


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Our Creative Manager, Ashlee is incredibly talented at building and designing tablescapes, back drops, altars and more. She has a keen eye for design and what pieces are cohesive together when it comes to executing a clients vision. After seeing much of her work, I was so excited to have her join the LMD team and she has truly made her mark on our brand. She is also a gentle, compassionate mom of 2 who really has a way with people. I can always count on her to be the one looking out for the guests who may need a little extra help and taking excellent care of our clients. 


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Allie, our production manager is a beast! I approached her to join LMD because I knew her standards for attention to detail were high and that she would always be working to make sure every detail and design element would meet and exceed our clients' expectations. She's incredibly organized and has a knack for being able to improvise seamlessly when needed and she truly works hard to ensure all relationships between venue, vendors and clients are working together for a successful event. Also, a mom of 2, she is such a loving, passionate and eager self starter who genuinely cares about the quality of her work and service to others. 


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A little about myself, I have been managing and producing events for 8 years now, working everything from fundraisers, community events, dances, parties and weddings. As the Events Director, I am a meticulous planner obsessed with lists, spreadsheets, timelines and organizing all of the logistics that go into planning events large and small. I oversee all operations going into an event from the first steps of planning to the last minute of clean up and I get such a rush from each event we finish up. My favorite part of all of this is being able to create and design a specific vision for a client's special day and seeing efficiently executed. It allows the creative side of me to always be at work and play! Whether it's painting, writing, building, drawing, designing, restoring, or repurposing, the artist in me loves being able to always have a project to work on and Love More Decor has created that opportunity for me. 

4. Where do you draw inspiration from?

I think as mothers we draw inspiration from our everyday interactions with our kids. They are so full of wonder and imagination that they are constantly encouraging your creativity.  I can be crafting or painting or even hiking with my children and as they explore the activity we're up to they easily come up with new concepts completely organically and just like that, a new idea for a backdrop has been planted or an arch or table setting, all because of the colors my kids were using on their canvas, or because of the way they built something out of sticks and leaves. So much inspiration truly comes from just spending time with our kids and I think that's what makes our job that much more gratifying. 

 Thanks to   Haute Sweets Baking Co.   for letting us photograph a team meeting in their beautiful shop. 

Thanks to Haute Sweets Baking Co. for letting us photograph a team meeting in their beautiful shop. 

5. What types of brides/couples do you like to work with the most?

We really love all couples! We have worked with so many different clients with a large variety of styles. I think part of the fun in what we do is embracing the diversity of our clientele and their needs. It's allowed us to continue to work hard for our clients and keep a fresh mind when it comes to ideas and design elements. 

6. Where do you want your business go to in 2017, and what do you want to do more of?

This year we would really love to work with more local wedding vendors and styled shoots. I hope that in 2017 our business can gain more exposure and be recognized for our hard work, integrity and style!

 Photo credit:  Kirstin Burrows Photography

Photo credit: Kirstin Burrows Photography

7. Share your thoughts on female empowerment, and what it means to you. 

There is a great quote about women by G.D. Anderson I read once, 

"Feminism isn't about making women strong. Women are already strong. It's about changing the way the world perceives that strength."

We women are built strong but for some reason the world does not commonly see us as so. I think the best way to combat this and what I think is the ultimate female empowerment tool is the act of self love. As we are still living in a man's world, I know my two daughters will still have to fight and claw their way out of the man cave, but loving ourselves fiercely, knowing our worth, enough to be our own guardian, champions and advocates, I believe we can continue to pave the way for women by not accepting anything less than what we deserve. 

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Big thanks to Allison & team for letting me get to know them and feature them on this months Boss Babe Spotlight. As a working entrepreneur mama myself, I love getting to know other women who are building their businesses and balancing motherhood! 

If you're planning a wedding or event in 2017, I definitely recommend Love More Decor


ARE YOU, OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW A BOSS BABE IN THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AREA WHO'S WORTHY OF BEING FEATURED IN THIS MONTHLY SPOTLIGHT? THIS IS A CHANCE TO HIGHLIGHT OTHER FEMALE OWNED/OPERATED BUSINESSES IN THE SOCAL AREA.

AS AN ORANGE COUNTY BASED BOUDOIR PHOTOGRAPHER I'M COMMITTED TO FEMALE EMPOWERMENT, AND WILL DO EVERYTHING IN MY POWER TO UPLIFT AND SUPPORT OTHER WOMEN. 

GET IN TOUCH IF YOU'D LIKE TO BE CONSIDERED FOR A FEATURE. 

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"It was exactly what I had hoped it would be!" | Orange County Boudoir Photographer

The first time I met today’s beautiful client was on the phone, and after that one conversation, I knew I adored her. When I asked why she wanted to have a boudoir photoshoot with me, she teared up as she told me her story.  She was reaching out to me at a time in her life when she wasn’t at her ideal weight. After falling off her fitness plan while caring for a dying family member, she had gained weight and as a result no longer felt sexy and beautiful.

This is something that we women do – especially as mothers. We spend so much of our time taking care of everyone else, that we forget to take care of ourselves! We put everyone else’s needs first, and then if there’s time left at the end of the day…maybe we’ll take a moment for ourselves. For Miss M, that was even more true because she’s a nurse; a caregiver at her core. To her, caring for everyone else just comes natural.

This natural instinct in women, is what I think draws us to an intimate portrait experience and why it can be so powerful. To put a day on your calendar, and declare it to be ALL FOR YOURSELF and let someone else (me!) take care of you. To clear your head for a little while, and simply be a woman. A beautiful, confident, sexy woman. An opportunity to connect with a side of yourself that you’ve not seen in months, years…or for some people, ever.

I hear it all the time, “I need to lose 10 pounds, and then I want to do a shoot,” and I’m here to tell you NO YOU DON’T. You absolutely do NOT have to lose weight in order to love your body, and feel sexy and beautiful. In fact, sometimes it’s at those low points in life when you need this type of pick-me-up. The kick-in-the-pants you needed to help you get yourself back on track. A reminder to put yourself first from time to time. 

Here's what Miss M had to say about the experience:

"I am a registered nurse and am currently working on my Master's degree. I wanted to do this because I was feeling down about myself for gaining some weight and my husband has never said a word about the gain. He only compliments me and tells me how beautiful I am, everyday, at my worst and my heaviest.

I needed to see myself as beautiful and sexy!

Sexy is not a size it is an attitude and I needed to remind myself of that!!"

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  "My favorite [photo] was also my best friends favorite. When she saw it, she said "it looks like a Chanel perfume ad" - what a compliment that was!!! Believe me, true best friends have no trouble telling you when you don't look good!!"

"My favorite [photo] was also my best friends favorite. When she saw it, she said "it looks like a Chanel perfume ad" - what a compliment that was!!! Believe me, true best friends have no trouble telling you when you don't look good!!"

"No fears, no obstacles- I knew I was doing this for me as a surprise for my husband- I was only worried about looking too HEAVY!!"

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"[My boudoir experience...] reminded me that I am beautiful and sexy regardless of my weight. It also reminded me to WEAR the lipstick!!! Who cares what others think!!!!"

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"It was exactly what I had hoped it would be! Having my best friend there, the mimosas and Mandy telling me I looked HOT!!!!!"

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"JUST DO IT!!!!! It will make you feel empowered and gorgeous! It will pick up that self esteem that has hit the floor."

She's absolutely right, you know! Get in touch and let's talk about helping you pick that self esteem up off the floor, and start seeing yourself as the badass, sexy lady that you are. 

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One of the many faces of postpartum depression | Orange County Boudoir Studio

Okay 2016...I’m officially done with you. Yes, there have been some pretty fantastic moments, but overall, it's not been my favorite year. No, I’m not talking about the general state of the world - I’m talking about stuff much closer to home. Much more personal matters.  

Like many moms these days, I’d consider myself fairly well read in the baby development department. I’m the kind of person who needs to understand what is happening so that I can deal with it. If I understand WHY my kid is being a jerk at this particular moment, it helps me cope and not take it personally.  So, when I was pregnant I was well informed of the likelihood of postpartum depression and the signs – yet when it hit me, I had NO clue how much it was affecting my life.

 Photo cred: Roxy Rodriguez

Photo cred: Roxy Rodriguez

I had this idea in my head of what “depression” looked like. I pictured someone lying in bed all day, crying non-stop with a desire to harm themself and/or their child – which wasn’t me.  I also thought PPD only affected “new” moms during the first 6 months postpartum.

For me, it hit later, around my sons first birthday. I started therapy the first time around then, and began a major life re-evaluation (which is when my career change began – you can read all about that here). Finally, I started to grasp the reality that I was dealing with postpartum depression. I thought it was just a super mild case though, and figured that with time…I’d be all good, not something that was bad enough to need medication.

As with many things in life, the vision in your head often doesn’t represent real-life. In my reality, postpartum depression took the form of anxiety (not the I-can’t-get-out-of-bed-because-I’m-too-sad vision I thought it was). You know that nervous feeling you get when you’re about to do something scary or uncomfortable? I was feeling that from the moment I woke up, until I’d fall asleep at night. Some days would be worse than others, and occasionally it would subside – but for the most part, it was always there.

 Self portrait project circa June 2016

Self portrait project circa June 2016

With the anxiety came a lack of motivation and an inability to focus. I honestly thought I had developed a case of adult ADD because I simply could NOT focus. I’d sit down at my desk each day to work, and within moments have 10 tabs open. I’d get up for a bathroom break and notice the dirty laundry, and decide to throw in a load. On the way back, something else would distract me. It was a never ending cycle of getting sidetracked by anything and everything. I’d have a million ideas, but never the “umph” I needed to act on the ideas and execute them.

It wasn’t just me that this was affecting either. It was bleeding over into all my relationships and hindering my business goals. I was irritable and short-fused, which didn’t pair well with parenting. I rarely found myself enjoying the time with my kid. Instead, I was constantly trying to keep my cool and not blow up on him. My husband? Well, same with him. I was a ticking time bomb that may start crying at any moment, so he would just steer clear. That’s the thing about depression – it’s the fucking gift that keeps on giving, to everyone around the person who’s suffering.

It wasn’t even just those closest to me. On a broader scale, it looked like me being a flake with a lot of unfinished plans. Loads of unanswered text messages, emails, direct messages and comments – because, well, I don’t know. Because I simply didn’t have the motivation. Or I was scared; afraid of being rejected or shut down.

Now, I’m not a lazy person – but I was starting to question that. Was I lazy? Why didn’t I do all these things that I wanted to do? I could imagine the type of mother and wife that I wanted to be – who I thought I was at my core, but that girl was nowhere to be seen. I no longer enjoyed things that I once did. I could envision the business I wanted to build, the service I wanted to provide…yet, I kept getting in my own damn way. I felt like a wind-up doll, who wasn’t fully wound. My frustrations led to me feeling down on myself, which only led to more anxiety and a cyclical spiral of self-doubt.

This past summer, I finally started seeing a therapist again. (If you’ve ever had a desire or curiosity to see someone – DO IT. Seriously, it’s so helpful to have someone to talk to. Someone objective and not emotionally entangled in your life and relationships, and able to give you sound advice. I strongly believe that the biggest problem with our world now, is that we don’t pay enough attention to mental health and prioritize it. One doesn’t have to suffer a tragedy to have emotional wounds.) After a few months of weekly meetings with my counselor, I was starting to feel better. She helped me devise sound strategies to dealing with the anxiety, and how to better communicate what I was feeling with my husband.

Then I suffered a miscarriage at 10 weeks.

All of the progress that I had been feeling, took a bit of a setback. While I’d maintained a reasonably limited “attachment” – knowing that unfortunately, miscarriage is terribly common – it still hurt. Getting pregnant is something that happened for us rather quickly and easily, and I’d already had one healthy, successful pregnancy…so I was overly confident. Going from being pregnant for nearly 3 months, to suddenly not being pregnant was a shock.  I was sad, and the anxiety was back.

Things really boiled to a head when I went in to see my OB a few weeks after the miscarriage for a check-up, and broke down crying while talking to my doctor. After she told me that she personally ended up on Prozac after suffering from PPD after her daughter was born, I decided to accept the help. I was done struggling with postpartum depression/anxiety, and living my life at half power.

In addition to starting a super low dosage of Prozac, I joined the gym. I was determined to take this tragedy, and use it as motivation to get my life back on track. To take control of my happiness, and not be so damn stubborn and deny the help that I (now realize) was so very necessary.

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Within a month, I felt like a whole new person – or, instead of a new person, like MYSELF. For the first time since my son was born (over 3 years ago), I felt like my old self and realized that I was still in there. The brave and bold woman I knew at my core, was still in there…she was just stifled. I felt strong enough to take risks once again, and had the motivation to execute the ideas that had been simmering on low for so long. 

I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason. At the time of the loss, it was hard to imagine why that pregnancy wasn’t viable. I’ll never know for certain what the cause was, but I can’t help but think I wasn’t strong enough to handle it – emotionally AND physically. I needed to get myself on track before I could care for another little human.

I wish I could say I was “all fixed” now and no longer struggling, but that’s miles from true. In fact, I write this at a time when I feel myself backsliding. The difference is that I now know what’s affecting me, and the symptoms associated with it. Instead of letting it paralyze me, I choose to hit it head on and no longer hide in the shadows. Hopefully by putting it out there, I can cope with it – and maybe help bring attention to postpartum depression. It can have many faces, and affects every single woman in a different way. If this sounds like you, or someone you know – please seek help. Or, if you just want to talk to someone else who’s dealing with it, I’m here. Feel free to reach out to me. 

Here's the 2017! To understanding myself better with each passing year, and learning to use my own weaknesses to help empower other women. 

She secretly always wanted to do this || Orange County Boudoir Photographer

One of the things that I believe is an absolute MUST for your boudoir experience, is professional make-up & hair. You're beautiful just as you are, but having someone do your make-up is part of what helps you take on that sexy alter-ego that I know is hiding in each and every one of you. I don't consider this optional, which is why it's built in to all of my sessions

When I started my boudoir photography business here in Orange County, CA, I started the search for the perfect make-up artist to compliment the intimate portrait experience that I provide. Someone with a personality kind of like me, and someone I'd like to have a drink with outside work. The "glam" portion of the photoshoot should feel like hanging out with your girlfriends, so if I'm not friends with the make-up artist...then, well, that would just be weird. 

I happened upon Veronica when I was searching for someone with experience working with all skin tones, to accommodate a client at the time. I quickly learned that not only is she an incredible artist, but a down-to-earth, super rad lady. We bonded quickly over our shared love of Game of Thrones. 

Something that I feel passionately about, is that I want all women that work with me to experience a boudoir shoot with me. I want the person who's going to be doing your make-up, to know what she's talking about when she says "you can relax, Mandy will show you exactly what to do." Someone you can relate to you, because she's #beentheredonethat. I also want to do everything I can, to help empower the women around me to be the best damn version of themselves possible.  

If you're looking for an amazing make-up artist in the OC/LA/SD area...I highly recommend Veronica Fensel Make-up Artistry. You can check out Veronica's gallery down below, and hear straight from her what it was like:

"I have watched women get glammed up and pose for boudoir shoots for years, and have secretly have always wondered what it would be like to do one myself!

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"Immediately upon leaving the shoot I felt like a sexier beast than when I walked in. I really did feel like a model during the session, and I think Mandy's encouragement during the shoot was the reason I felt that way! Then when I saw my photos, I felt especially beautiful seeing how amazing I looked during a time when I didn't feel so beautiful to begin with.

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"I had been feeling down and less confident about my appearance for several months before the shoot. My face was breaking out, and I was at my heaviest weight. I was, however, determined not to let my insecurities stop me from doing something I'd always wanted to do!

 "My favorite part of the experience, was my improved self image."       

"My favorite part of the experience was my improved self image.

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"I was blown away when I saw my images! I rarely think I look good in pictures, and while I was expecting to like a few, I didn't expect to love every single one!

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"Mandy is one of my absolute favorite photographers to work with as a hair/makeup artist, and as a model! She consistently produces beautiful images and is just a real and positive person who is so fun to hang out with!"

(P.S. I adore working with you too, Veronica.) 

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Are you a make-up junkie wondering how she got her look? Veronica has shared all her make-up details with us. 

"For my foundation, I used Mehron Celebre Pro HD creme foundation in order to easily cover my acne scarring and blemishes. It is a full coverage creme, so I used a damp sponge to sheer it out in places that didn't need as much coverage. To cover up under eye darkness, I used MAC Prolongwear Concealer in NW25. The NW range from MAC has pink/peach to orange undertones which is great for correcting and covering blue and purple tones under the eye. Both of these products last a really long time, especially when you use a sponge or powder puff to press in translucent power on top to set it. To add some warmth and definition, I used Nars "Laguna" bronzer using a large flufffy powder brush around the perimeters of the face. On the cheeks I applied Nars "Orgasm" blush to brighten up my complexion. 

On my eyes, I used shadows from the Lorac Pro 2 Palette. From the palette, I used the color 'Nectar' in the crease as a transition color, and then blended inwards with 'Plum' and 'Cool Gray'. For a pop of shimmer on the lid, I used the colors 'Chrome' and 'Silver'. I lined the eyes with black gel liner from Inglot, and applied false lashes from the Coquette Cosmetics in the style, 'Leanna'. These lashes are super fluffy and full! Then, in order to make my lips pop on camera, I first filled in my lips with MAC lip pencil in 'Soar; and went over top with MAC lipstick in "Please Me". 

I set everything with Mario Badescu Rosewater spray to help meld the powders and creams together, and to give the skin a more natural glowing finish."

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"Going outside your comfort zone and seeing positive results is so rewarding! If you've always wanted to try something like this, but are more on the introverted side like me, Mandy is the perfect relate-able and comfortable person to shoot with!!"


It's true...I'm a bit of an introvert myself. I like having one-on-one conversations with people, and get terribly shy in a crowd (unless I have a camera in my hand). This is all part of why I love intimate portraiture, and why I'm so passionate about what I do. Connecting with people and helping them step outside of their comfort zone for an empowering experience adds so much fulfillment to my life. 

Are you one of those who's secretly always wondered what it would be like to have your own boudoir photoshoot? What are you waiting for? I'll help you through the whole thing and show you an incredible side of yourself that you may not knew existed. Let's start with a phone call to break the ice! 

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Boss Babe Spotlight: DAHLIA BOUTIQUE | OC Lingerie & Bra Boutique

Welcome to the OC Boss Babe Spotlight! #ocbossbabespotlight

What’s that, you ask? It’s a monthly feature on my blog where I’ll be spotlighting local Southern California female-run businesses, who are doing their part to empower women! In case you haven’t noticed, a big part of what I believe and do here is empower women. I think a woman who knows her worth and recognizes her beauty is unstoppable!

Have you ever heard that you should surround yourself with people who inspire you and you can learn from? That’s where the inspiration for this blog series is born. My personal desire to meet, interview and photograph some of the most badass, hard-working, confident lady-bosses in LA & Orange County. 

This month, I'm featuring Dahlia Boutique located at 246 Main St, Seal Beach, CA. As an Orange County boudoir photographer, I spend a lot of time shopping for lingerie. You know what's most surprising...the lack of local lingerie shops (especially outside of the mall)! So when I stumbled upon Dahlia, I had to get my butt in there ASAP. Then, when I met the fabulous women working in there, I wanted to know more!

Here's what they had to say...

How did Dahlia Boutique get started, or what was the inspiration? 
Dahlia Lingerie and Bra Boutique was created for women who have a hard time finding their bra size; those hard to find sizes and styles.  A wonderful alternative to chain lingerie stores that only carry basic sizes.  A place where women can get a professional bra fitting and walk out embracing their bodies and feeling beautiful.  

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Can you tell us a little about the owner?
Leticia is a strong, independent business woman who opened this boutique to help other women. She always found that the department stores didn't carry her size either. She found her niche and embraced it. Lety has been a member of the Junior League of Long Beach and a volunteer for the Boys and Girls Club. She is very involved in her community and giving back to others.

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How did it find it's home in Seal Beach?
Seal Beach is a charming beach community filled with families. Main St is definitely a wonderful place to shop with many one of a kind boutiques and local owned stores. When Lety came across 246 Main St and found a corner location, she knew it was meant to be! With so many growing families, moms need a local place to shop for their unmentionables without having to go all the way to the mall. A place they can easily go to after work or while the kids are in school.

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How do you choose which brands and styles that you want to carry? 
We carry a variety of brands. Some are widely known and trusted brands, others are smaller designers who have specialty lines that are unique and hard to find. We love to find brands that are beautiful and well made of course, but also brands that offer the 28-30 bands and the 38-44 bands. You would be surprised how many women come into the store wearing 36DD and walk out in a 32F.

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Most important thing women should know about buying the perfect bra? 
GET FITTED!!  Not once, not twice, but every time you buy a bra. Women's bra sizes can change on average 6 times in their lifetime.  Gaining or losing a few pounds can mean a different bra size. Having babies and/or stopping breastfeeding can change your size (DRAMATICALLY!!!). Age and hormones change them as well.  Get fitted at least every year.  We recommend getting a new bra every 6-9 months.  

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 Kierstin Shettlesworth,  Assistant Manager at Dahlia

Kierstin Shettlesworth, Assistant Manager at Dahlia

What are your favorite things about working in the lingerie industry? 
I love helping ladies find a new version of themselves.  Teaching them about the importance of a proper fitting bra and how it can make a world of difference.   Ladies love to shop, there is no doubt about that, but it's often our undergarments that need the most attention.  There is nothing like having your bra and panties match!  You walk a little taller and feel like you really have it all together, at least that day!


While I was in there chatting, we got to talking about bra fitting parties - which is something they offer - and I just knew I had to throw one! So, join us this THURSDAY, 11/10 from 6pm - 8pm. The Dahlia ladies will be offering up complimentary bra fittings, and I'll be bringing the wine & champagne. If you've ever been curious to meet me and ask your boudoir session questions, this is a great time to do so. There will also be a killer doorprize! Every lady who attends will get her name added to a drawing for a chance to win a complimentary boudoir session with Mandy Merino Photography, and either a chemise or bra and panty set from Dahlia Boutique (offer good until February 14th, 2017).

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Get more information over on the Facebook event page. Button below will take you straight there. 

Hope to see you there!


Are you, or someone you know, a Boss Babe in the Southern California area committed to empowering women? If you'd like a chance to be featured on my blog, please get in touch via the form below! 

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We're your GIRL GANG :: Orange County Boudoir Studio

...it felt great to hang with other women who are all about empowerment! They totally felt like my girl gang for the time we were together. I absolutely loved that!

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Boudoir in the Bluegrass :: Fall 2016 :: Lexington, KY

Mandy Merino Photography is bringing luxury intimate portraiture back to the Bluegrass this fall for a boudoir & beauty photoshoot marathon event. A limited number of sessions are being offered, and will be taking place in Lexington, Kentucky. 

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Thursday, 10/13/16
12:00pm - BOOKED
3:00pm - BOOKED

Friday, 10/14/16
12:00pm - available
3:00pm - BOOKED

The session fee ($350) covers your complete boudoir photoshoot experience. This includes one-on-one wardrobe and styling coaching to prepare for your shoot, professional on-location hair & make-up the day of your shoot, a 90 minute photoshoot with Mandy, 3-4 wardrobe changes, retouching on all final images and a live virtual photo viewing session. No products or images are included in the session fee. 

Albums, heirloom boxes, wall art and digital files are available for purchase separately during your viewing session. Get in touch and we'll set-up a time for a call to go over all the specifics.


I love photographing all types of women, but I have to confess...it's even more fun when with friends! SO. MUCH. LAUGHTER. Seriously the best. Here are some of the highlights from the Spring Boudoir in the Bluegrass event. Catching up with old friends, and making new ones! 

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"It was so much fun! I was really worried and scared for about 1 minute then Mandy started doing what she does and we had a blast!"

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"I about backed out! I felt overwhelmed when I was trying to find things to wear. I am not a lacy kind of girl... I'm more of a sports bra, yoga pant kind of girl lol. I talked to Mandy about it and she gave me some great ideas that would fit my personality and made me feel so comfortable and confident about the entire process."

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"This is an experience I will never forget. I will never forget how nervous I was, how much I laughed during, and how much I loved my photographs. Just do it, that's my best advice. Push to the side any apprehensions you may have because how often as busy women, moms, wives, girlfriends do we forget to indulge us? This is a treat that will never go out of style."

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Wanna be the first to know when upcoming events are announced? Sign up for our newsletter to receive exclusive Kentucky session details. 

Win a Complimentary Session | Boudoir by Mandy Merino Photography | Orange County, CA

One lucky Southern California woman has the opportunity to win a complimentary luxury boudoir session with Mandy Merino Photography.

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Part of our mission at this studio is to empower women. To tell them they’re beautiful, and help them celebrate who they are in a judgement free zone. To curate a stream of content that makes you wanna kick-ass and conquer the world (or at least comb your hair that day). I also want YOU to contribute to that stream, by participating in our private Facebook group “BOUDOIR by Mandy Merino Photography”. If you stumble across an inspiring article/quote/link that represents female empowerment, feel free to share it in the group!

Help me grow this awesome group by adding all your fiercest, bravest and most awesome girlfriends and family members. Then, engage with each other! Tell another woman she’s beautiful. You’ll put a smile on her face – I promise! In a social media world where women endure so much scrutiny and social pressure associated with their physical appearance, let’s make this group a departure from the negativity; and a place where you can complement a stranger.

As a way to thank you for helping be grow this awesome group and joining in the community, I’m giving away one complimentary session!  

Here’s how this works:

Invite 10 ladies to join the group, and get one entry into the contest. Invite more friends to get more entries. Example: 50 members = 5 entries.

Must be ladies who live in Southern California and over 21 years old.

Women only, please! I want this group to be a safe place for women to celebrate themselves through intimate portraiture, and recognize how badass they are. A place of “girl power” and female empowerment.

The complimentary session will include a wardrobe consultation, hair & make-up on your shoot day, 1.5 hours of studio time and $100 product credit to use at your viewing & ordering appointment (a $450 value).  

For your entry into the contest to be complete make sure all of the following are complete:

- Minimum of 10 entries required to qualify

- Must like “Mandy Merino Photography” and be a member of the “BOUDOIR by Mandy Merino Photography” group on Facebook

- Lastly, comment on this blog post when you’ve finished all steps

This contest will end once we reach 2,000 members. Winner will be chosen at random once the contest ends and announced LIVE in the group.

The lovely lady who adds the MOST friends to the group will win a $25 Victoria’s Secret gift card. 

Her Heart Melted :: Central Kentucky Boudoir Photographer

Like myself and so many other women, this beauty right here called me up wanting to book a shoot because she was struggling with self-confidence.

All that we endure as women can really leave a girl feeling depleted. Most of the time, we're putting the needs of others ahead of our own and rarely taking time out all for ourselves...especially for things like feeling pretty. It may not seem like that big of a deal, but when a girl doesn’t feel beautiful, then she’s living life missing a huge source of confidence. I believe that ALL women are beautiful and carry a unique spirit that makes them special. When we’re able to realize that, and see ourselves as the beautiful badasses that we are – the world better lookout. That woman is unstoppable.

I want to be that woman. I want YOU to be that woman. I love empowering women to be the best damn version of themselves that they can be, with the power of intimate portraiture.

This session started as an anniversary gift to her husband. In the end, she gained a whole new perspective of herself.

"Viewing my photos...my heart melted. I could not believe how amazing I looked."

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Was the session different from what you expected?

"Yes it was. I thought I would be a little more nervous but honestly I was so much more comfortable. I felt like I was with an old friend"

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To those of you considering a shoot for yourself...

"Do it. You will feel so good about yourself through the whole process. It will show you that you are so much more than what you see yourself as." 

Ready to find out more about a shoot all for yourself? Get in touch! 

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This session was shot at the Spring 2016 Boudoir in the Bluegrass event, in Stanford Kentucky. Mandy Merino Photography offers limited Lexington & Central Kentucky boudoir photography sessions once or twice a year. 

Sexy Little Bride :: OC Boudoir Photographer

Shoot days are a little like Christmas morning for me. I never know what my clients will unpack out of their wardrobe bags when they first arrive. Even though we often meet and go shopping before a shoot, and I create a custom mood board with wardrobe recommendations for every single client, I still don’t know what they’ll end up bringing to their session. So, seeing all those lacy little numbers being unpacked is like heaven for me. My creative boudoir photographer wheels start turning and I begin imagining how I’m going to photograph that specific client, in each outfit.

This girl right here, well, she pretty much nailed it with her wardrobe. Truth be told, she rocked everything about session – but it all started when she laid out all her beautiful wardrobe options. She had such a sweet and bubbly personality, and then when the camera pointed her way…RAWR! We laughed and had so much fun, and girlfriend was fierce AF. 

“I wanted to give my fiancé an unforgettable gift on our wedding day.” MISSION freaking ACCOMPLISHED.

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A bit of advice from this beauty to women considering their own boudoir session:

"Pick out outfits that are true to you so you really do feel amazing in front of the camera, and just have fun. I know it can be stressful leading up to the day wondering about your bare body for the world to see, but its your body and you are doing this for you." #word

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What was your favorite part of the experience? "Seeing the photos was the best for me; all the suspense was lifted. I honestly didn't believe it was me in some of them."

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"I have always been very insecure about my body and most importantly my arms in photos. It was very tough to overcome that since most outfits are sleeveless."

FACT: It's fighting these fears head-on and conquering them, that makes boudoir photography so empowering! We ALL have insecurities. 

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What was it like working with Mandy for your boudoir experience? 

"She was amazing! From the chit chat we had before I bought all the outfits, all the way until I got my album she was extremely helpful and easy to work with. I don't think I would be as comfortable as I was, if I ended up working with someone else. It felt like a great friend was taking these photos..."

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Big thanks to this beauty for sharing her photos and experience with us! It was my pleasure, and I hope you and your husband enjoy these for many, many years! 

To all you sexy Southern California Brides, let's talk about creating the perfect gift for your future spouse. Wanna know the best part about it? It's also a huge gift to yourself! In the midst of all the wedding planning stress, what could be more fun than setting aside a day that's all for you? Part of my job as an Orange County boudoir photographer, is making you feel amazing about yourself! That confidence is going to compliment your wedding dress better than any other accessories. ;) 

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Mommy Needs Friends | Life of a boudoir photographer

This one goes out to all my fellow gypsy souls! Those of us who are blessed and cursed with wanderlust. Those who know the complete loneliness of picking up and moving away from everyone you know and love, but do it because your dreams pull you.

Something that I’ve struggled with most of my adult life is loneliness. It’s followed me around from the moment I left my home state of Kentucky after college. I moved to Chicago with one of my best friends and had grand plans of big-city-living with my BFF. It was going to be epic! Well, as life does, plans changed last minute and I found myself all alone in a crappy tiny apartment on the north side of Chicago.

 Me looking out the window of aforementioned "tiny crappy apartment". Photo cred: Nolan Wells 

Me looking out the window of aforementioned "tiny crappy apartment". Photo cred: Nolan Wells 

When I say I was alone, I was ALL alone. I had a few work friendships budding, but those hadn’t moved outside of the office yet. Walking home from the train stop after work, glancing into the windows of restaurants, I’d see groups of people eating & drinking, and feel so alone and jealous.

While this time in my life is haunted with loneliness, it’s also filled with so much empowerment and self-realization. With time I found my people, “my tribe”, and even met my husband. Any adult woman who’s ever moved away from home knows how hard it can be to build brand new female friendships (especially if you’re a little introverted like me.) Actually, it’s REALLY freaking hard to make new gal-pals when you’re a grown woman in a new city.

Fast forward to when my fiancé-at-the-time and I moved to LA. Moving with a significant other certainly crushed the initial blow of isolation. We had a handful of mutual friends from Chicago and college who were here, plus I was busy planning our wedding so I didn’t invest much energy into finding a local BFF. My husband, plus our handful of friends, was enough to satisfy my social needs at the time.    

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A few years later, we decided to “move to the ‘burbs,” so-to-speak. I had the opportunity through my job at that time to telecommute full-time, and we were able to eliminate my husband’s 2-hour-a-day-commute. We decided to go all the way, and move to the OC.

We’d moved an hour away from the few friends I DID have, and started working from home. Oh, and guess what…the weekend we moved into our new place, I found out I was pregnant. Little did I know how much of a recipe for disaster that I had brewing.

Around my son’s first birthday, I’d really started to fall apart. I had made a tough decision to leave my full-time job, and pursue my photography career (way more about that here). I’d gone from working 50-60 hours a week and having a nanny, to being home with a toddler 2-3 days a week, in a city where we had basically no friends. I have never felt so lonely and isolated in my life. The move, career change and lack of friends, coupled with what I’m now certain was postpartum depression, started to destroy me.

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I realized I had a great big void in my life: female friendships. I didn’t have a crew for “girl’s night out”. Nobody to go see the latest cheesy chick flicks with. I was so lonely and felt so lost. I had my husband, yes, but a girl needs girlfriends too!

In my efforts to fill this void I started “mom dating” in the mommy group meet-up scene, which I found to be terribly uncomfortable. It’s so hard to talk to a stranger and get to know them, when your kid is whining and you’re overwhelmed with anxiety.

At one particularly embarrassing point, I even decided to post a “personal ad” in the local Orange County Moms Facebook group. I’d had a long conversation that morning with my best friend (who lives 2,000+ miles away), about how I was so sick of feeling this way. I figured there was no harm in letting it all hang out. “So what if a bunch of strangers on the internet think I’m lame”, I told myself. Well, 229 LIKES and 111 COMMENTS later, I realized how 'not lame' I was and how terribly universal this feeling is.

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I had recently started attending local meet-ups with fellow photographers, in the hopes of making new friends while growing my portfolio. It was actually at one of these meet-ups when I discovered boudoir photography. From the moment I downloaded the first memory card from that shoot, I was in love. No other genre of photography had ever sparked my passion quite like that. The hair & make-up. The lingerie & wardrobes. The self-acceptance and empowerment. It seemed like I’d found exactly what I needed. A genre of photography that stole my heart, while also giving me just what I needed in life – to be surrounded by strong, brave women.

I suppose you could say that I’ve decided to take the reins, and form my own tribe. When I say that I hope each one of my clients walks away with a new friend, there's a whole lot of truth in that statement.  

To those of you who are in the same place and reading this thinking, "OMG, yes, that's me!" Don't hesitate to drop me a line! ;)

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Do It For Yourself! :: Downtown LA Boudoir Photography

Admittedly, the morning of this shoot, I nearly “backed out.” I’d been eyeing a friends’ Downtown LA apartment for a while as a shoot location, and when he agreed to let me shoot there, I was SO excited. Those sexy concrete floors, floor to ceiling windows and a stunning view of DTLA is this boudoir photographers’ dream come true. However, when the morning of the shoot rolled around the anxiety set in. All the unknowns of the environment started to overwhelm me, and I was considering just doing the shoot at home – where I was comfortable.

Fortunately, my husband gave me the loving kick-in-the-pants that I needed and told me to get the hell outta my own comfort zone. Thank goodness for him.

 “…Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being; go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.” -David Bowie

This quote hits home with me so much. Without a doubt, every time I’ve pushed myself to do something that scared the crap out of me, something amazing came of it. Case in point, this stunning collection of images. 

Here's what Miss C had to say about her shoot:

“No, I don't have a significant other that I wanted to take these sexy boudoir photos for. This was something that I wanted to do just for ME and be proud of who I am, in the skin that I'm in, no matter what anyone else thinks. This was something Mandy completely understood and was just as excited for me to do this as I was."

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"If you took a professional model shoot and added the pampering of a bride, that is what our whole day felt like. Mandy was so professional and personal during the entire process. We met first to discuss what type of style we were going for and gauged my level of confidence. I told her what was important to me (my tattoos) and what I wasn't comfortable with (fluffy midsection). And she paid very close attention to all of those things without me having to remind her or feel uneasy."

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"On the day of the shoot it felt more like hanging out with the girls while getting ready for a night out. That type of trust is what allowed me to let go and be vulnerable and sexy." 

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"These photos are an example of how talented Mandy is to be able to capture my skater punk kid personality while exposing the bad ass sexy lady I never knew I could be."

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Thank YOU, Cami, for opening up and letting me capture this side of you! 

Hair & Make-up by Kathy Huynh Artistry

Special shout-out and thank you to Bucky and Ces for letting us invade your home. So thankful to have friends who love art and understand the power of inspiration! xo

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Mandy Merino Photography | Boudoir Photographer Orange County

Hey you! Thanks for stopping by. Want to see fun video with my latest collection of intimate portraits of my brave and daring clients? 

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Boho Bridal Boudoir :: OC Boudoir Studio

I'll admit it. Leading up to WPPI (one of the biggest photo conferences on the west coast held annually in Vegas, which I attended earlier this year), the thing that I was MOST excited about...was 3 whole days alone in a hotel room, with nobody else to take care of other than myself. Selfish thoughts? Maybe, but I'm a mom, and I think any mom who said she never dreams of glorious time alone is lying! I love that (nearly 3-year-old) kid as much as I possibly could, but every now and again, MAMA NEEDS A BREAK. You know what? I took full advantage of that trip, and did just that! 

I slept in late. I got take-out pizza, wine & cookies and rented a chic-flick while lounging in bed in my PJ's. I went clubbing (WHAT?!) one night all by myself. IT. WAS. EVERYTHING. As busy working moms, sometimes you just have to schedule in a little time to center yourself. To be alone with your thoughts, and not have to worry about everybody else's needs. If you've not done that recently, I highly encourage you to change that! 

Don't get me wrong though. I wasn't a total bum the entire time I was there. I also "worked." I put that in quotes though, because it's hardly work when you're doing something you love so much, and this little genre of photography has captured my heart and taken over my life. For better or for worse. ;)

While there, I was also able to recharge my creative energy with a boho bridal styled boudoir shoot with some fellow photographer friends. I'm DYING to do more of this! I looooove the style from this shoot so much, so if this speaks to you...get in touch with me. Let's plan your boho inspired looks. 

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This luxurious lace robe can be found here

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Are you a busy lady who needs to take some time out for yourself? Let's talk! A luxury boudoir experience is ALL about YOU. Just sit back, and I'll guide you through the whole process. Don't know what to wear? I do! No clue how to pose to look sexy? I do! From where your hands go, to how to breathe...I got you! Seriously, I take care of everything. 

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Hold your head a little higher, girl! :: Orange County Boudoir Photographer

Last fall I had the opportunity to reconnect with a beautiful woman that I went to high school with. We cheered together and knew each other kinda, but never really ran in the same social circle. We had very recently found each other via Facebook, when she stumbled across my business page. She'd recently been through a rough patch in life, and was suffering from low self-esteem.

This is a topic that's very near and dear to my heart. I think it's so hard as women to maintain our individuality when we take on the roles of mothers and the swirl of sorrow that can accompany it . I have lived through it! I know what it's like to lose sight of yourself, and have your "mojo" fall to the wayside along with any confidence you ever had in yourself. Truthfully, I think MOST women go through this from time to time, but it's not something we openly talk about it. It's not pretty. We show our "highlight reel" on Facebook & Instagram, and secretly suffer in silence. My own issues with this, is exactly why I became a boudoir photographer. The reason that I love what I do so very much, is because I get to help women tackle their own fears and demons...and by doing this, I do the same. 

I'm so proud of Ms K for facing her self-doubt, and telling that low self-esteem to take a hike! She's a beautiful, strong woman and needs to always remember this. 

"I had developed very poor self-esteem & I really felt that doing this would help to give me the "boost" I needed to feel better about myself." 

"I was extremely nervous in the beginning to be so "exposed" with my personal body image being so poor..."

"I definitely have more of a sense of confidence now. Mandy gave me a few sneak peeks on the camera during the session, that were obviously unedited, and that helped to boost me along during the shoot. I can get dressed & walk down the street now with my head a little higher!"

"I had read all of the fantastic reviews and stories from other girls that had done a shoot with Mandy & everything they had said was all true!! She's AWESOME!!!!!"

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"The entire session, from hair to makeup to mimosas & fruit to the music to the fun outfits -- was all wonderfully fun!!!"

Describe how you felt when you saw your images the first time:

"It's definitely a hard feeling to describe. I guess in awe would be good. I was hopeful that they would turn out good, but they actually turned out GREAT and I was very pleasantly surprised & proud of myself for doing it."

Sometimes, you just have to embrace your pain and sorrow and accept it as your own. Learn to love those things about youerself, and your greatest weaknesses can become your greatest strengths. 

"DO IT!!!!! Mandy makes you feel 10000% comfortable & beautiful & sexy and makes you forget that you have doubts or fears.. It is loads of fun to be pampered & catered to for a day & have gorgeous photos to remember it by!"

So, what are you waiting for? Get in touch with me, and let's start tearing down your own self doubt. Take some time to reconnect with the girl we all know is still in there. ;) 

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Rock-N-Roll Badass Beauty :: OC Boudoir Photographer

I strive to custom tailor every single one of my sessions to fit my clients personality and style, while also adding my own twist to it. When Caitlin and I collaborated on a "sexy biker/rocker" styled shoot, it was a match made in heaven. I LOVED every minute of it as our styles blended together perfectly. We had such a blast during her shoot, and the fact that she walked away with a collection of images that truly represented HER personality and style...well, that made me a happy girl. 

Some feedback from Miss C about her session:

"After working with several different photographers, doing boudoir with all of them, I definitely felt most natural with Mandy. Her home was inviting and warm, congruent with her personality. The session felt organic and customized to fit me..."

Mandy wasn’t afraid to laugh with me, to embrace the awkward situations, where I repeatedly tripped in my heels, while attempting to look sexy. It felt like I was hanging out with an old friend, no fear of judgement.

How did you feel when you saw your images?

I was floored. I am so blessed to have been able to work with Mandy. I feel she was able to capture my best features from behind the camera, through prompting and guiding, as well as being able to recognize my best angles."

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Do not not let anything keep you from this experience. It is tailor made for you, so there should be no excuses or fears holding you back.

What was it like working with Mandy?

"From the first correspondence to the final viewing session, Many has carried herself as a professional who beams true passion for her craft. Her energy is contagious to be around and definitely helps dissipate any nerves you may have about the experience."

You're such a beautiful soul, Caitlin! I've loved getting to know you and make art together! 

Curious about what a shoot styled just for YOU would look like? Shoot me a note and let's start getting to know one each other. 

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