"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. 

"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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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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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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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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