"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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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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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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