Tenth Anniversary Gift | Orange County Boudoir Photographer

“I’m already having the time of my life, and I haven’t even put on a teddy yet!”

- Ms A (during glam/mimosa portion of her photoshoot)

Ms A reached out to me with the intentions of planning a super special gift for her husband for their tenth wedding anniversary (and let me tell you, we created a gift to beat all other future gifts. #sorrynotsorry, future gifts). But what I love the most, is how much of a gift to HER it was. While trying to plan the perfect session, it led her down a path of self discovery and acceptance, and ultimately changed her perception of herself.

That’s the magic in what I do.

When women reach out to me with the goal of creating a gift for a significant other, I always giggle inside a little bit, and then remind them that this is also a gift to THEMSELVES too. It’s just that us women need that “excuse” to do something nice for ourselves.

Let’s hear what Ms A had to say about the experience...


“This session was a gift for my 10-year wedding anniversary. After ten years of marriage and two kids, I wanted my husband to see me as a strong, sexy woman again (there was no indication he didn't, just my insecurities). Most importantly, I wanted to FEEL sexy again. “

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“I really don't like getting my photo taken! It's hard for me to pose seriously for photos without doing something goofy because I never know what to do with my face. I also had reservations about showing my tummy, about which I was very self-conscious.”

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“The session itself was much more fun and comfortable than I was expecting, and I felt like an actual model! But the whole process was also different from what I expected... I feel so happy in my own skin again, and accepting of my flaws but also my strengths. I never expected to feel so affected by it all in such a positive way. “

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“I loved the weeks leading up to the session where I got to spend some time picking out lingerie and shoes, and also the anticipation of waiting for the photos. But the session itself was so fulfilling that I would have to say it was my favorite. And of course seeing my husband's reaction the first time he saw the photos was also pretty awesome. :) “

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“I definitely got emotional seeing myself the way I was hoping: a strong, sexy woman. When I look at the photos now I still have to remind myself that it's actually me. ;) “

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“In general, the whole process from start to finish was an unexpected exploration of how I saw myself. I never realized that in my day-to-day life I was focusing so much on my flaws and not embracing my body's beauty. Preparing for this session changed my outlook because I wasn't going to be able to hide in front of the camera. I discovered what I like and dislike, and what lingerie flatters me. During and after the session I truly felt sexy again. I am walking taller and I'm more confident than I have ever been. When I look in the mirror now, I notice my perfections and strengths before my flaws (if I notice them at all).”

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“Mandy exceeded any and all expectations. She guided me perfectly throughout the whole process and paid attention to every little detail to make it an amazing experience! From having my favorite music playing when I arrived, to making me feel completely at ease during the session, she made the experience comfortable but so much fun!! “

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To any ladies who’ve been considering their own boudoir experience:

“Just do it. Don't wait for "the perfect time." Do this for yourself, you deserve it! Go buy that lingerie, those high heels (or whatever you're into) and take a couple of hours to feel like the sensual goddess you are. It is so incredibly worth it.”

I don’t think there’s much else I need to say. Are you ready to get in touch?

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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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Rediscovering myself in my 30's :: OC Boudoir Photographer

We often associate our twenties with finding ourselves, right? I know I did! I enjoyed the hell out of my twenties. I started my career, explored, moved around a lot, made new friends, had tons of adventures and eventually met my mate. I also dedicated a lot of time in my twenties to thoroughly “investigating” who I was.

My ideas about life and love are very bohemian, and often completely hippy-dippy. I think the relationship you have with yourself is one of the most important, if not THE most important. If you don’t know who you are and what you want in life, how can you choose a partner/friend/career/home that you’re going to enjoy. Right at thirty, I married my amazing husband and thought I had a good handle on what I wanted out of life as I entered the next decade of my life.

One of my favorite photos from our wedding. Photo by Adam Padgett Weddings. 

One of my favorite photos from our wedding. Photo by Adam Padgett Weddings. 

A couple years later, I found myself at a crossroads. I was married, my son was about to turn one, I had a good paying job that allowed me the freedom to work from home, and we were all healthy. Everything was seemingly perfect, right? Except, I wasn’t happy. I was kind of miserable. Which made me feel angry and silly for being such a whiney-privileged-white-girl with far fewer problems than many struggle with, yet still feeling so unsettled.

I started doing some soul searching to try to pinpoint the source of my unhappiness. I mean, I thought I knew who I was and wanted in life. After a lot of tears, self-reflection and heart-to-hearts with my husband, we decided that my current job was mostly at fault. I didn’t love what I was doing and was certainly not passionate about it. It was a decent paying job with a lot of perks but still just “a job” and was actually stressing me out in a major way and consuming 60-80 hours a week at times.

I was tired of watching the nanny take my son for walks and to the pool. I wanted to be the person doing those things with him. For years, my dream was to be a stay-at-home-mom. I relished the idea of menu planning, organizing playdates and being Little-Miss-Suzy-homemaker. “I could rock the shit out of that,” I thought. We crunched the numbers, and decided the best thing for our family was for me to stop working full-time. It would be a sacrifice (hello, it’s Southern California and cost of living is cray), but one that we thought would be best.

So, I quit my job. Gulp. It wasn’t an overnight thing, though. I ended up freelancing part-time for several months to help them during re-staffing, but my hours cut waaaay back. I gained two full days a week with my son, and we started establishing our new routine of park explorations and playdates.

Awesome, right? Sadly, no! Instead of finding the contentment that I was expecting, I found myself lonelier than ever and completely isolated. Plus, this overwhelming sense of guilt and confusion. Many women (myself included) dream of being able to stay home with their little ones and raise them. “Why wasn’t this making me happy?” “Am I a monster because I don’t enjoy spending 24-7 with my son?” By this point, it was time to call in professional help. I could no longer deal with my own feelings and couldn’t see things clearly. Fortunately, I found a great therapist with whom I shared an instant connection with. It only took a couple sessions before I had a light bulb moment!

I’M AN ARTIST! However, over the past few years I’d stopped doing anything creative. My previous job had no creative outlets and I wasn’t pursuing anything on my own. I thought becoming a mother had turned me into the type-A, controlling person that I had become. WRONG! As I learned in therapy, creativity without an outlet can sometimes foster itself as perfectionism. Ding, ding, ding! That was sooo me.

I have always loved art and music, but I had never realized how much they define me. Those aren’t just hobbies or interests for me. They’re a part of my soul; part of who I am and where I find peace and contentment. Armed with this brilliant information, I decided it was time to make a change.

Photography had always been a passion of mine. A “someday maybe…” full-time profession. My first job out of college gave me the opportunity to learn digital photography and shoot corporate headshots, events and products, so it wasn’t new to me. I knew my way around a camera. It felt like a no-brainer that it was time to take the leap and try once-and-for-all.

I set out to start shooting again; anything and everything I could get my camera on. I wasn’t really sure what my vision or voice was as an artist, so I gave myself permission to explore. In this vein, I started attending various meet-ups with other photographers where they would get together and photograph one another. When I stumbled upon a boudoir meet-up group, I was intrigued…but didn’t really know much about it. As many, I thought, “oh, they’re just sexy photos,” and is exactly what I told my husband when he asked where I was going.

Nervous and scared, I went to meet a group of strangers. In a park. To take “sexy photos”.

One of the very first boudoir "style" photos I ever took.

One of the very first boudoir "style" photos I ever took.

I came home that night with a passion that I had never seen in myself. I had never had SO MUCH FUN with a camera in my whole life. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. It wasn’t a group of girls being vein and taking sexy photos of each other. Instead, I found a group of women who are passionate about art, who love and embrace themselves as they are and encourage one another. I was hooked and so in love with that collection of images.

From there, I was ravenous. Hungry for more! I set out to learn all that I could and practice as much as possible. I started spending my “laundry days” folding clothes and watching countless online classes on posing, lingerie, lighting and the business of boudoir. All other types of photography basically flew out the window for me. “Am I crazy?” “What will my family and friends think?” These are the questions that swirled around in my head as I debated taking the leap to dedicate my business solely on boudoir photography. Fortunately, my ever-supportive-husband re-confirmed things for me. “You should go for this! I see a hunger and passion in you that I’ve never seen before.”

When I decided to follow my heart and stop worrying about what everybody else thinks, it was like the clouds parted and things clicked. It filled so many voids in my life (more on this subject in a future blog post). I had always loved hair, make-up, fashion, and playing dress-up. This was an opportunity to combine my talents and interests in an exciting new career path. Little did I know how much it was going to change my life and revitalize my own self-confidence.

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That’s not to say it hasn’t been a rocky road filled with fear, doubt and difficulty. Some days I still ask myself what the hell I’m doing and wonder if I’m cut out for it, but then I’ll receive a glowing testimonial from one of my clients and they re-confirm things for me. I’m doing so much more than making art with my photography; I’m HELPING women reclaim their femininity (sometimes discovering for the first time) and realize what badasses they truly are. 

A boudoir photoshoot with me is so much more than taking a few sexy photos. It's an experience, from beginning to end. For some, it's therapeutic and maybe one of the scariest things they've ever done. For others, it's a celebration of who they are and acceptance of their unique beauty. As Dita Von Teese once said, "It's not about seducing men. It's about embracing womanhood."

That's ^^ me. One of the first images from my boudoir selfie project.

That's ^^ me. One of the first images from my boudoir selfie project.

I'd love to hear YOUR story. Get in touch and let's chat. 

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