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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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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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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Moody Milk Bath :: OC Boudoir Studio

If I could have a second dream job (in addition to being a boudoir photographer), it would be working with the person who creates the soundtrack for a movie. I'm not sure what that exact title is, but, I think that would be so much fun. Nothing makes me happier than listening to awesome music while creating beautiful art. And that's exactly what I felt while creating this collection of images. We listened to an entire Radiohead album during the shoot, so it seemed only fitting to use their new song in the video for this session. Turns out, it perfectly represents the mood and vision for this shoot. 

Listen to it loudly and enjoy! 

SONG: Spectre, by Radiohead

I wanna hear what songs/bands/artists inspire you! Comment below with your inspiration. I love the idea of developing a concept for a shoot based on the inspiration of one album or musician. 

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You definitely still "got it" momma!

This woman right here, is the poster child for my boudoir philosophy and mission. I RELATE to her on so many levels. Helping women like her reclaim their sensuality in a totally fun, relaxed and artist experience and walk away with a new-found confidence is why I do what I do. 

So many women think or say, “Oh, I wanna wait until I lose the baby weight to have my shoot.” I absolutely, totally get that. However, what if instead of waiting, you accept the person you are TODAY (stretch marks and extra pounds) and capture this beautiful time in your life. I don’t know about you, but my breast-feeding boobs were pretty amazing! ;) How cool would it be to have photos to remember that unique version of you? 

"I wanted to do something for myself that would make me feel a little like my old self, since having the twins. It was time to get out of the yoga pants, take the mom bun down, and put some makeup on."

"I am not as comfortable in my skin since having my babies. It took some guts to strip down into so little, but I knew I could do it. As much as I would like to be skinner and more fit, I know that my body created two little humans, at the same time! And that, is pretty amazing."

What was your favorite part of the experience?

 "I think I would have to go just the interaction with Mandy. She really made it feel like I was just hanging around with a girlfriend and taking photos."

"I was able to see that I still got it! Under all the spit up, sweat and whatever else there is, I am still that sexy woman that my husband says I always was."

Mrs K, thank you so much for sharing your photos and experience with us! You absolutely, without a doubt, definitely still GOT IT. You're a goddess, and your husband...he's one lucky man. 

And to those of you reading, wondering if you still have "it"...you do! I promise. If you need me to show you, get in touch and I can answer all your questions. 

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