Sensual, Ethereal Maternity Boudoir Session

One of my sweetest friends, who is an amazing fine art photographer, asked me to take maternity photos for her for her 3rd babe to be. I was touched, and honored, and I’m not going to lie, a little nervous. Her work is so beautiful and artistic, and I worried that  mine wouldn’t be as good. So even though I was totally scared I said yes, because she had taken such beautiful portraits of me pregnant with Oliver. (I promise I will post some soon!)

I usually try to go in with a plan of what I want to capture, but I also like to go with the flow to see what inspires me about my client and who she is. For Michele, I wanted to be a bit more whimsical and ethereal, but still have a little mood and sensuality to her photos. And I had also been feeling inspired by some portraits I had seen of Natalie Portman during her pregnancy. 

The fun part of photographing another photographer is the collaboration of your ideas, plus she also had such a great wardrobe to play with. We spent the day playing in her lovely new cottage, and I think what I captured shows how beautiful and glowing this mama is. 

 maternity boudoir
 maternity boudoir
 maternity boudoir
 maternity boudoir
 maternity boudoir

One of the best things about doing a full day boudoir shoot is all the different scenes and looks you can do. Michele’s home is very light and cozy, and I wanted to capture the beautiful natural light that floods in and complement that.

 maternity boudoir
 maternity boudoir
 maternity boudoir

I stepped out of my comfort zone to incorporate fabrics and other textures to add to her shoot. I would normally put my clients in a pretty dress, kimomo or lingerie, but wrapping them in fabric and feathers was such a fun feminine touch for this shoot. Especially when you’re 36 weeks pregnant, and you are feeling uncomfortable and not your best, playing with different elements helps you to feel beautiful and special.

 maternity boudoir
 maternity boudoir
 maternity boudoir
 maternity boudoir

Michele has the cutest backyard and chicken coup, so of course I wanted to take some photos of her in her cottage garden element.

 maternity boudoir
 maternity boudoir
 maternity boudoir

I love how this shoot represents Michele, her style and her lifestyle so well. I always try to incorporate elements that are special to a woman and her environment into her intimate shoot.

Hair, makeup and photos by Melissa Hoffmann.

Why You Should Have a Motherhood Photo Shoot

One of the things I cherish the most when I look back at my childhood are the early photos of me with my mom and my dad. I love seeing how young they were and how happy they were with me as a baby and toddler. I want my son Oliver to be able to look back and see photos of himself as a baby with both his parents, and see how much we love him and loved being with him.

He's growing so fast, and the time is flying by. I already look at photos of him as a newborn and get weepy eyed over how fast his babyhood is going. I want to savor and remember every moment.

I take so many photos of him, and him with his dad, but there aren’t a lot of me with him, other than our snapchat selfies we like to take. Or a few nursing photos that I snapped in the beginning. Being a mom is such an important part of my life and I want to have photos to document every step of the way. And I'd love to have some of where I look awake and feel pretty!

A few weeks ago we set out for Sacramento to have our photos taken by one of my mentors, The Blissful Maven. I love how intimate and emotional Candice’s photos are, and it's what I strive to have my own photos express for my clients. When I look at how she captured us, I can see perfectly the special bond Oliver and I have, how happy I am, and the love I feel for him. I’m reminded of the long journey it took to motherhood, and how much it was worth it, even though there were times I was in despair of ever having a baby. I look at these pictures and feel so grateful to be Oliver’s mommy and so blessed to have him in our lives.

photos by The Blissful Maven

photos by The Blissful Maven

It's so easy to make excuses why not to have our photos taken with our little ones. You get busy with life, there's always unexpected expenses that come up, you want to lose that last 10 lbs of baby weight.... there's always a reason not to do a photo shoot. But there are a million reasons why you SHOULD do one to document this special time in your life as a mama. You'll never regret doing a photo shoot when you are looking back at the early years of your baby's life. But trust me, you will regret it if you don't have beautiful pictures celebrating the love between you and your little ones. 

I'd love to capture the love of you and your little babes and give you something to treasure. I have a few spots open in September and October for mama and baby sessions if you're in the San Francisco Bay Area. Click HERE to email me to chat more about your Mama Bird session. And if you're not here in the Bay Area, I'd encourage you to find a local photographer you love who can give you beautiful mementos of you and your little ones.



Feeling Sensual and Feminine As a Mom

Are you a mom who feels like you've lost your connection with yourself and your body? Or maybe you’re not a mom, but you still feel disconnected from your feminine self and sensuality?

I get it. I’m 7 months pregnant right now with my first baby, and with all the changes going on in my body it’s hard to feel like my old self. And as much as I love my pregnant belly it can be hard to feel sensual. 

Before baby, I had been so focused on getting my body healthy, and adorning her in pretty, stylish clothes, and finding ways to feel more feminine, beautiful, and confident. Now everyday my body is changing rapidly. It's so exciting, but at the same time I'm already feeling like a different person. The clothes and styles I used to wear no longer fit, and sometimes it's easier to choose comfort over cute.

I want to embrace being a mother, but I'm also conscious of not losing who I am as a woman. I hear from so many women that it's hard to connect to the feminine, sensual woman they were before becoming a mom, and I want to make sure that woman doesn't get lost. I believe that being confident and connected to yourself makes you a happier and better mom, wife, friend, business owner, etc. 

When I'm struggling or unsure of something in my life, I look to other women who have been there and are leading the way in being the best version of yourself. And one of those women is my dear friend Sarah Jenks. 

Sarah shared on her blog recently about her own journey to get back to her feminine, sensual self after having 2 kids back to back. She talked about how she came back to herself through great self care and embracing a new lifestyle and routine that was all about nourishing and enjoying being in her body where she is now, and listening to what her body said made her happy. 

Sarah had come to me during the summer and shared about how she had been feeling like she had lost who she used to be and had been struggling to connect with that woman after becoming a mom. She wanted to feel beautiful, vibrant, confident and sexy in the body she has now, which has born 2 children. After getting re-aquainted and feeling comfortable in this body, she wanted to celebrate it, and the journey she had taken to get to embracing who she is now.  To celebrate this journey, we did a beautiful boudoir shoot, that focused on what made Sarah feel feminine, sensual and beautiful, which was being in nature. 

Sarah said about our shoot, "Melissa and I explored what this sensual part of me wore, where she longed to be and how she expresses herself.  The day we did the shoot we went to a waterfall I loved and visited often.  She asked me questions and helped me really call forth that sacred, sensual part of me.  It wasn't about posing, but about capturing the full expression of love I felt for my body and spirit. I even surprised myself by getting in the waterfall!

I don't feel like this all the time, nor do I walk around dressed like this, but this is a side of myself that I try to call on often.  And when I can't, when I'm stuck in "ogre mode" I now have these pictures to remind me of this important part of myself. If you feel called, I can't recommend working with Melissa enough.”

I loved being a part of Sarah's celebration, and it has inspired me so much to love my body where she is now, and through the changes she will continue to make through my pregnancy and post partum. 

I wanted to share with you some of the gorgeous images from our shoot together, and hopefully it will inspire you to connect with your feminine and sensual self, embrace her and let her shine through. There are many ways to connect with, embrace and celebrate your body, but one of the best ways I have found to do this is through an empowering photo shoot.  Click HERE if you want to learn more about doing a shoot to bring out your feminine and sensual side.

 boudoir, intimate portraits

All images, hair and makeup by me.

xo, Melissa

Love Your Breasts

If you follow me on Instagram, then you saw I posted a couple photos of my shoot with Sarah Jenks for a collaboration with True & Co bras. Sarah had just written a beautiful post about the relationship she has had with her breasts, and it made me think about my own relationship with my breasts and my body. (You can read Sarah’s post HERE.)

From high school and on, I always felt like I was fat and needed to be on a diet. My weight has fluctuated up and down for years, and I’ve yo-yo’ed from being on ridiculous diets to eating really unhealthy and binge drinking. The times when I felt like I was my “ideal weight”, I got there through extreme exercising, under-eating, and diet pills. When I was in my 20s, Hydroxycut and ephedra were my best friends. When I was in my 30s, I was in the gym 6 days and week and binge drinking and eating late night fried foods all weekend. And then I would feel terrible about myself for eating so bad. Needless to say, I wasn’t very healthy, and I still found things to pick apart about myself and my body.

After a few years of starving myself and taking too many diet pills, I swung the other way and went back to partying, eating fatty foods, and not exercising very much. Since then, my weight pendulum continued to swing back and forth for years. And as I continued to treat my body terribly, I was always telling her what was wrong with her and needed to be fixed. I hated my thighs, thought my breasts were too small and then too big, my stomach wasn’t flat enough, my butt too big...and the list went on. No matter how I looked, I always thought I could look better.

It took me years to be at peace with my body. And it started with meeting and working with Sarah Jenks though her Live More Weigh Less program. I learned to be kind to my body, to tell her she’s beautiful, and to feed her with healthy foods. I learned to love my body and my boobs at the size they are now, and not obsess over the size I wish they were.

When Sarah asked me to photograph her in her home, wearing her favorite True & Co bras to celebrate her breasts and her body, I was so excited. To do a shoot that was all about being comfortable in your own skin is always inspiring to me. And I love that it shows that wearing a bra that fits you and makes you feel like you look good gives you an extra boost of confidence to love yourself even more.

So here are some of my favorites from our shoot together. I hope they inspire you to celebrate your body in the size she is now, and treat her to some pretty and comfortable lingerie.

Hair, makeup and photos by me. Model- Sarah Jenks. Bras by True & Co. 




The Evolution of My Business

7 years ago I was living life as a pharmaceutical sales rep. I had a job that paid well, with great benefits and perks. But I was miserable in it. I was constantly stressed out, depressed, bored and unfulfilled. I had this sense that I was a creative person, and I felt like there was no room for creativity in my current career (and trying to figure out how to best put my drug’s stickers on treats was not my idea of creativity). 

I decided I wanted to be a makeup artist, and set about learning everything I could about it. And 7 years later, here I am. I’m living a creative life, am able to pay my bills, and I have worked with hundreds of inspiring women. I finally feel like I’m making a difference in someone’s life. I may not be curing cancer, but I get to help women feel beautiful, which is really important to me. 

Last year I started to feel a little unsettled. Like something was missing. And even though I still loved what I was doing, I felt like I needed a new challenge. I started to pay attention on my shoots to what was happening in front of the camera, rather than how my work looked. I was getting ideas of what I would like to see the woman do, or wear, or how she could look. I was feeling a pull to be the one that was creating this special experience for the woman, rather than just the one getting her glamorous for it. I realized that I wanted to be a photographer.

And as I did with my previous desire to be a makeup artist, I started my journey to learn everything I could to be a photographer. I want to create transformational portraits and experiences for women. I want to help women see how beautiful they are, and to create a way for them to express who they truly are.

I spent the last year honing my technical skills, learning how to create the art I want to share with the world, and building my portfolio. And now I’m excited to launch my photography services!

As a hair and makeup artist, I have seen the power of professional photo shoots time and time again. I’ve seen regular women completely transform because of the work that I do, and the experience of being seen in front of the camera. They become who they really are because they are putting themselves in front of the spotlight.

And I’m so excited to be able to offer that transformation to you.

photo by me taken at The Blissful Maven workshop

photo by me taken at The Blissful Maven workshop

I want you to get that doing a professional photo shoot is the medicine you’ve been missing in your relationship, in your sex life, in how you mother yourself, and how you feel about yourself as a professional. I know you want to feel beautiful, confident and self-expressed, and like you’re on top of the world.

Maybe you’re going to acupuncture, yoga, getting massages, trying to spend time on yourself, but nothing is giving you that kick in the pants that you feel like you need to feel confident and beautiful in your own skin. This is what you’ve been missing. It’s one day, it’s being immersed in your own beauty. It’s the most effective jumpstart to confidence that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve witnessed it hundreds of times.

I know it may feel selfish to spend money on a photo shoot. I know you’re not used to spending a lot of money on yourself.  Think about how much money you spend on going to yoga, or the latest cleanse, or on your kids, or therapy. Your beauty and your self expression is just as important as those other things. In fact, I believe it’s more important. I want to take a stand for you being fully expressed in the world. And trust me, you’re worth it!

And because I want this to be a truly amazing experience for you, and so much more than a photo shoot, I’ve enrolled in a coach training program to eventually offer coaching sessions alongside my photography services, which I’ll be launching next year.

I have 2 different photo shoot options for you to choose.

One is a 2 hour photo shoot, with hair, makeup and styling by me.

Or you can choose to do a full day experience with me if you want to explore several looks and expressions of yourself.

If you’d like to learn more about doing a photo shoot with me, contact me here to set up a time to chat. I'M DYING TO KNOW MORE!

I can’t wait to show you how beautiful you are!


all photos by Melissa Hoffmann