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 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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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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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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