girlfriends in swimwear on sandy beach

I have made a commitment to not use models or “strangers.”

When clients hire me for their boudoir photos, I do not share their images without their written consent. Their images are their images. (It’s a very private thing.)

I still have to market my Boudoir Photography work, to show what I can offer. That’s where styled photo shoots come in. But, I don’t like using models for these projects… it sets a very unrealistic visual for women (and men) who are interested to work with me.

My clients are everyday people so I like to use everyday people. This group of women are real-life friends; I believe some are coworkers. They agreed to hang out with me for a few hours on a sandy beach somewhere on Sauvie Island, Oregon. The only rule was: Wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. Oh, and must have fun!

They brought the fun (aka bottles of yummy!) and I brought my Canon 35mm film camera with 50mm f/1.2L lens; that was all. It was a very good opportunity for me to see what I could do with posing five women in the same frame. Sure, there were lots of trials and errors but that’s also why us photographers do what we call styled shoots. We use this time to practice so that we’re not practicing while on your time that you paid us for.

Of course, I often get inquiries from folks asking if they could be in my next styled shoots… The short answer: No, but thank you for your interest in working with me.

As I piece together everything to restart my photography business in 2020, I have made a commitment to not use models or “strangers” but past clients who have already invested in me. They’re also already familiar with how I work so we can spend more time creating great images while we catch up on each other’s lives.

group of girls in swimsuits on sandy beach in Oregon

Beyoncé. Taylor Swift. Ciara. Shakira. They all wear it onstage at their concerts.

One of the most frequently asked questions my clients ask me before their photo shoot is: “Do I have to wear lingerie?” The short answer: NO.

How about a swimsuit instead?

There seems to be a strange taboo about wearing lingerie in private… like, it makes us feel dirty or it’s associated with pornography? I’m not quite sure what it is. But, famous performers like Beyoncé wear it publicly onstage at their concerts all the time.

Sure, what they wear is considered a costume. But, they look like lingerie/swimsuits to me. Heck, most of them are laced and super sexy, almost see-through, so that’s pretty much lingerie. Right?! To be honest, I don’t even know anymore. With the culture trend of social media, nothing is really private nowadays. Everything goes!

But, wearing a swimsuit out in public is just fine yet there are some that I question— in particular, thong string bikinis. String Bikinis, in general, show way more skin et al than most of the lingerie I’ve seen. There’s really nothing left to the imagination. So, yeah, I’ve got lots of questions why that’s not taboo but lingerie is.

The one thing that never changes for me is this: Wear whatever makes you feel your best. Not for others. For you. Do you love how you look in that swimsuit? Then bring that for your photo shoot with me! Together, we will make some pretty great images and no one is going to think it’s silly to wear a swimsuit for boudoir photos.

Bunn Salarzon - los angeles boudoir photographers

The Weather Gods Rain on My Photo Shoots

This is an actual fact.

At first, it was kinda funny… until it wasn’t. A lot of people thought I was just joking… until they realized that I wasn’t. The fact is the weather gods do not like me and always rain on my photo shoots. Did you book an outdoor photo shoot with me? Sorry, but it might rain. Bring an umbrella.

For this particular photo shoot, I had planned it for weeks and weeks prior to flying out to Los Angeles to shoot. My friend Renée tagged along even though she was just there a fews weeks prior for her own photo shoot. She said on the day of her photo shoot in January it was such a beautiful and sunny day as it is on any given day in Southern California. And according to Tony! Toni! Toné!, it never rains there. Until I came along.

It was raining and high winds of 60 mph, breaking rooftops off homes here and there. It was insane!

As we were getting everything ready, plus hair and makeup by Hikari Murakami, we watched news about the chaos that swept the city within minutes. No warning. I drove out to our shoot location on the beach to see if we could still make it work; checked a bike shop about renting a vintage bike for props. It wasn’t going to work, there was just no way we could safely shoot there.

So we headed away from the crazy weather… to Mission San Juan Capistrano. But, they wouldn’t let us shoot inside. Seriously!?

Time was ticking and the weather was barely holding up. What do I do now?! We traveled all this way to create art, but everything is working against us! So, I decided to drop everything— literally! We put everything down on the sidewalk and just started shooting right along the walls of Mission San Juan Capistrano, with oncoming cars, and we just made it work. These are the images I photographed in this narrow spot in, like, 15 minutes. This is what I mean when I look for SPOTS, not an entire location.

Bunn Salarzon - portland newborn photography

I HAD THE PERFECT PHOTO STUDIO… THEN I LOST IT.

Actually, I got scammed out of my Portland photo studio.

Never did I think it could happen to me. We had a signed lease agreement and everything; I read every single word of it, there was nothing on it that said the guy was a scheming con artist. I didn’t discover this until I Googled his name Christopher Wyland… after the judge awarded the Plaintiff (building owner) and evicted me from it. This happened in 2015 and I still haven’t gotten over it.

I worked so hard on this photo studio, invested a lot of money and poured so much love into it. It was almost perfect for me. I no longer had to rent from others because I had a space of my own to be creative as I wanted to be. And I was just getting started. (Sadly, it didn’t last long.)

I didn’t take official photos of the space but these are images I took on my smartphone to quickly capture angles to share with friends. To say that I was so proud of all that I’ve accomplished thus far is an understatement. It was a photo studio where I created artwork for my clients, but I didn’t want it to look and feel like a typical studio… I was making it into a home and that’s what I wanted everyone to feel the second they stepped inside my little world. It was barely all coming together, still so much left to do to design it like a live-in condo— then I found an eviction notice taped on the door. It devastated me.

white portrait studio with large windows
white office space with big windows
white office space with windows and skylight
white IKEA KALLAX bookcase
high ceiling white photography studio

Fast forward five years later into a new decade and a new me, I’ve returned to the photography world and I am looking for a creative space of my own. Again. However, I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t admit that I still compare everything to this first space that I got to call my own, albeit for such a short time.

It was 657 SF with a glass wall dividing the space where I did all my photo shoots and the other side was the client lounge area complete with a skylight and changing area behind those green curtains. It was on the top/third floor so there was not a single building or tree blocking the large window which means there was always a good amount of light coming into the studio even on cloudy days. It would’ve been perfect if it was a corner suite with two large windows. The building had an industrial elevator like something out of New York City; although it always had issues it was still super cute and great photo opp for city-themed photo shoots. (I called it the NYC Loft.)

Bluehour Restaurant was right across the way as well as TILT (a great burger and beer joint!); down the street was Whole Foods Market and easy freeway access. Honestly, it was almost perfect despite unpredictable street parking availability.

My monthly rent was just a little over $1,000 which was doable on my own so I didn’t have to rely on co-opt. I did rent it out to hourly and daily renters, that was a very effective option for when I wasn’t using the space. So, where do I go from here? Will I ever find a space like this or better? Unfortunately, I’ve found nothing like it so far.

Liz Marek - filming bear cake in Pretty Ponies episode

Let Me Tell You What Really Happened During Filming

I cried a lot… everything seemed fine; Romie and I were beyond excited to have been chosen to get to appear on a huge network television show, like the Food Network Ridiculous Cakes, although I wasn’t sure what we had done to deserve it.

We arrived for pre-event filming at Sugar Geek Show with butterflies in our stomachs because we didn’t know what to expect as we’ve never filmed for a TV show before. We sat down at the table with Liz Marek, the amazingly talented baker and very successful owner of Sugar Geek Show, as the producer prepped us for everything… Then the cameras started rolling.

Liz asked questions about what kind of cake we’d like to have for Oliver’s first birthday party, what were meaningful items and colors to include, etc., and I answered— because Romie didn’t want to talk!? I felt like I did well, no stuttering or making up words like how I usually would do when I get really nervous. Yeah, it was going well. Then she asked me about Oliver and our story… that is when I started to cry and couldn’t stop.

I recounted all the years that we had prayed to have a child of our own then Oliver arrived when we least expected, after the loss of Romie’s mom whom we adoringly refer to as Lola in reference to the online journal that I kept of her via Instagram called The Lola Diaries. To realize that being on the show and all the blessings that have come forth since were all because of Lola (and our many angels in Heaven who have watched over us as we prayed and cried for 15 years). How did we get so lucky?!

The final footage that aired did not include a second of my tears, or any parts about our adoption journey. It wasn’t about us, per se. Which wasn’t a total surprise since the show was about the ridiculously amazing cake that Liz created just for Oliver. But, what I wouldn’t give to see footage of all those raw moments because I’m the one who is usually behind the camera capturing the emotions of others. Sadly, it also omitted the emotional moment when Liz surprised Romie with a special song that played on the bear’s suitcase to the tune of “You Are My Sunshine” which was his mom’s most favorite nursery rhyme that she sang to all her grandchildren and their children.

You can watch the episode titled “Pretty Ponies” that includes two other cake stories along with our three-foot tall bear cake that appears towards the end. Unfortunately, you will need to sign in with your TV provider that has Food Network access. Also, see the photo gallery from Oliver’s 1st Birthday Party; photos by ANIKO Photography.

Fun Fact: My sister, owner of White Elephant Asian Fusion food cart, and I have both made an appearance on the Food Network, but on different shows.