Facing Breast Cancer Head On

Last year as I was scrolling through my FB feed while sipping my morning tea I came across a post from a friend where she was bravely sharing her breast cancer diagnoses and upcoming mastectomy. My heart broke for her, for her family and her two young boys. My immediate thought, as strange as this may seem to some, was that she needed me now more than ever… to take her pictures. Ha! To be fair, she has expressed interest numerous times so when I contacted her later that morning, it wasn’t completely out of the blue. With the whirlwind that had just become her life, she agreed that now was the time and so we got the ball rolling on this very meaningful session.

You see, this was not my first pre-mastectomy client. I have been witness to more than one beautiful and courageous woman who wanted to teasure her body the way it was. Time brings changes in many ways but often we are not given a choice on what is to come, it is these times when we must stay strong, encouraging and do what we can to uplift others. My gift is with the camera and crafting beautiful, pretty, sensual and sexy photos for every women who graces my studio. Miss M was no expetion. She transformed from this sweet, soft spoken mom to a gorgeous, bold and sensual woman and thus, she has allowed me to not only share her images but a bit of her story and for this I am grateful.

From the lovely Miss M…

“A month before the shoot I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I decided to undergo a bilateral mastectomy. I knew my body would never be the same and I wanted to have a positive memory of my body. I also wanted to do something special for my husband. I’m so happy I went through with the photo shoot. Danea made me feel so comfortable from the beginning to the very end. My hair and makeup were both perfect.I knew that no matter the outcome of the surgery, I am beautiful no matter what. I am normally pretty modest and shy so I was surprised at how confident and empowered I felt AFTER the shoot! I’m now 5 months post surgery and cancer free. Thank you Danea for not only making me look beautiful but for making me FEEL beautiful.”

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Thank you, Miss M!


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Fun Fact Friday | San Jose’s Top Boudoir Studio

Getting to know your photographer!

I wanted to start this fun feature so you all can get to know me a bit better. So sit back and enjoy as I share with you a little of my crazy, fun, and sometimes weird shenanigans!



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The Love/Hate of Reality TV : San Jose Bay Area Boudoir Photographer

Confessions of a Boudoir Photographer

Full disclosure, I do not like reality shows. Like most people my age, I remember when they started and I was excited for the first season of all the popular shows, however as the years past, they clearly became less real. It was the same characters, different players. There’s the funny one, the sporty one, the naive one, the super bubbly one, the a-hole, the aggressive, the ego, the lovable, the narcissist, the double crosser, the genuine etc… men, women, it didn’t matter, after the first or second season it was always the same, so contrived, so not… real. The novelty soon wore off and I stopped watching them. Done. It’s been many years now.

One night early this year I turned off the DVR and was playing a game on my phone. I wasn’t paying attention to the tv, what channel it was on or what was playing, but when the conversation piqued my curiosity, I looked up and was sucked in. Not by what was happening, although juicy and insanely immature, but by the eyebrows. Yup, eyebrows. This poor girl. I am not a mean or catty person but all I could think was that a makeup artist somewhere had a beef with this young lady and took it out on her face, for the world to see.

Here’s the clip I looked up at from my addiction to Fishdom, and please, this is in no way a mean spirited post, but I couldn’t stop staring. In fact throughout the rest of the episode, the eyebrow consistency was all over the place and with multiple ladies. Did they not have mirrors? Needless to say, they were on some island or excursion and I have to wonder if it was an on location MUA because once they were “back home” the eyebrows were perfectly polished. Yeah, leave it to me to get sucked into a show because eyebrows made me scratch my head…

When I finally stopped the staring at eyebrows, I started paying attention to what was happening. When I looked up and saw how Ben causally swept Lauren’s hair aside, I knew immediately that he was into her and what lies were said about her, didn’t matter to him. That was how it started and then my ego kicked in… I wanted to know  if I was right. I wanted to know if I was reading his body language correctly. I hit record. I watched the rest of the season. I actually got sucked into one of THE most ridiculous scenarios one could possibly be in. There were moments I was unsure if Lauren was the one, but as it turns out, he was an easy read.

Then came Jojo as The Bachelorette. I liked her and wanted to see her happy, so once again I hit record. It has been an interesting season, but I noticed right away how the show splices events to make it look so much more dramatic in the previews. Sadly, it’s been pretty non-dramatic, unless you count all the times Jojo has cried as drama? Chad, albeit funny as hell, should be avoided at all costs. I also notice… Chase. I won’t go into details about this season, what I found funny, disturbing and annoying. I doubt anyone cares about any of this, but I can honestly say, I don’t think Jojo is making the right decision. There are so many red flags with the two remaining guys, red flags that are hard to see when you are in it. Her body language says Jordan, it’s said Jordan from day one. I personal, feel distrust towards him, can’t put my finger on it but “phony” comes to mind. I hope I am wrong but ultimately I think she’ll choose him, and I am placing my bets right now that she doesn’t stay with the man she chooses in the end. I was hoping it would be Chase, but alas… *Sigh* And I still do not believe that you can truly be in love with someone in such a short amount of time. Granted there is much more together time than the show airs, but still, let’s get real here. Infatuation, yes, but real love, nope. There is nothing real about the situation or the circumstances and I cannot even imagine what all the players have to go through emotionally. It’s horrible, really. As an outsider, I was team Chase, but Luke also seems more genuine than the two remaining. I was stunned she let Chase go. As a women, I am also feeling my inner cougar come out because well, hot damn, Chase! Hot damn.

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And yes, yes I did start following him on Instagram. Don’t judge. Truth is, his demeanor and personality reminds me of my hubby, which I find very endearing. The first time he kissed Jojo, during Yoga– COME ON!!! He’s sexy as F@#$! *deep breath… exhale* I mean if I wasn’t a happily married cripple in her 40’s with two young boys, I’d be on that like whip cream on strawberries. Mmm mmm good! Wait, did I say that out loud? I digress. You see, the issue now is, what if they choose him as the next Bachelor, how could I NOT watch it? Ugh, please don’t choose Chase, let him find love the old fashion “Tinder” way. Or better yet, let Jojo realize her mistake and bring him back! I couldn’t stand to watch another season of this horrible “reality” show, but he’d have me there, front and center… purrrrring like my large wild cat, inner ego. Meeeow.

Damn you, The Bachelor.

Confessions of a Boudoir Photographer

I love hoodies and I don’t mean “like”, I mean LOVE! If the weather is cool and I am at home you will 9 times out of 10, find me in an over sized pullover hoodie(I don’t like zippers). I may even own a few XL, because I love them big, loose and cozy! I recently started buying plain colored ones instead of touristy ones to feel more “dressed up”. LOL. I have even debated having a Boudoir Coterie hoodie made.

Unfortunately though, I can relate to this:

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Regardless of how I might look, don’t try and take away my hoodies– I’ll cut ya! hahaha

 Only 5 more weeks to book a session before the holiday deadline! Contact us today!

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Photoshop- It’s Not A Dirty Word | San Jose Bay Area Boudoir Photographer

 There is nothing more beautiful than her belief that she is beautiful.

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There has been so much hype of late about photoshop and the negativity it sparks. We have all seen the commercial screw ups with big time campaigns making already thin girls even thinner and over Photoshopping celebrities to look 20 years younger than they are. I want to share another side of Photoshop than many people don’t consider, but first I want to make it very clear that I am not for the over Photoshopped techniques, making someone into something they are not or creating fake, plastic people with unattainable beauty standards. I am all for “enhancing” in a natural way with a hint of “fantasy”, but before you freak out over the words I put quotations around, please, hear me out. There are a few points I would like you to consider before you join the anti Photoshop movement, because Photoshop does not have to be a dirty word.

Unlike a photo people are are not 2D. We are not static, we are animated. This is a very important piece of information when considering how you look in and at images and here is why; Let’s say you go for lunch and shopping with your best friend. Our brains can only take in so much information at once. You focus on the conversation, how good or bad your meal is, the song that is playing, the hunky waiter, the sale rack, etc… what you may not have noticed was the pimple on her chin(until she pointed it) or that she gained a few pounds, has a scratch on her arm from her new kitten or that she looks a little dark and puffy under the eyes from being up late with a sick child for three nights in a row. Now imagine instead that you were handed a photograph of your friend as she was at that moment. Without all the other distractions around, you would likely notice most, if not all of these things. Our brains can’t and don’t take in details it doesn’t deem important in the moment, or is too distracted to compute. This is why three eye witnesses to a crime can give three different descriptions. I have photographed women for 2 hours straight but didn’t notice until I open the images, that one has a back tattoo, or a large bruise on her hip, or a rash on her shoulder and so on. However, as soon as I see that 2D image, BAM, there it is! Our brains can take in much more information when not distracted by 3D, moving and living things. An image is just a reflection of someone as they are at that second from a specific angle and sometimes it can be flattering and other times it can be horrible(think about how we always seem to pause the tv at that split second that makes a gorgeous actor look hideous. hahaha). A great boudoir photographer knows how to accentuate a woman’s features in camera and then does what might be needed to finish the look in Photoshop.

Light plays a huge factor. I like to photograph clients in various lighting situations. Sometimes the light hides smile lines and crows feet, other times it may make her eyes unbelievably gorgeous, but it causes fine lines to shadow. I would rather soften those lines in Photoshop so her eyes sparkle, than allow those lines to draw the viewers attention away from her beauty.

Our eyes do not see the way a camera lens sees. Sometimes PhotoShop can be very handy when it comes to angles. What is closest to the lens will be the largest(think looking into a toaster… haha) You may have a fabulous face shot but her arm looks larger than it does in person. A quick adjustment with the liquify tool will make her look in proportion. It’s not about dropping a couple dress sizes and any good photographer who specializes in photographing women will know that 1. you try and get it right in camera, and 2. the slightest editing adjustment should be all that is needed. Light can diminish or accentuate both the good and the not so great.

Self love and acceptance does not mean you have to see every little physical “distraction” in a photograph.

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Skin isn’t a constant.

Weight isn’t a constant.

Your image in a photograph, now that will stay the same.

Blemishes, rashes, dry skin and bruises come and go. Scars fade, heck even cellulite changes with your weight and as you move. Just bend over a little and your cheeks smooth right out! 😉 Weight comes and goes. The scale always changes and that’s okay. In fact, it’s okay to want to see yourself without these details that have no reflection on who you are as a person. A Beauty, Glamour or Boudoir session is all about seeing what you feel on the inside. Random fact: When I see myself in dreams or playing through a scenario in my head, my body moves like I have never had Rheumatoid Arthritis. It’s the strangest thing. The minds eye is powerful. I strive to show my clients the beauty that I see in them. I will remove or diminish the things that I don’t want their eye to go to. You are not a pimple, a stretch mark, a bulge or a bruise. You are not under eye circles, or cellulite. Some clients want these things left as is, but the vast majority do not. There is no right or wrong.  I don’t want clients to feel anything negative when they see their images, we say enough of that to ourselves when we look in the mirror even when we hard we try not to. No matter how much we love ourselves on the inside there may always be something we secretly wish we could change on the outside.

Unless they ask me to remove something specific, 99% of my clients won’t know what I did. I keep them real and recognizable.

Danea Burlseon San Jose Bay Area boudoir photographerMe– you can’t see my fused wrists, deformed hands or scars. Nor can you tell that I have natural dark under eye circles, and I am totally fine with that!

This image makes me feel pretty.

 “But stretch marks, scars and cellulite are part of a woman’s story.” Yes, they absolutely are. However, that doesn’t mean they need to be seen in a photograph. Heck, in my head during sexy time, I look and feel like I did in my 20’s; before my c-section scar and pregnancy belly(can I still call it that 6 years later?). I have a body crippled from RA, covered in scars and deformities, cellulite and now veins and age spots but I certainly don’t want to spend my money on a photo shoot for all of that to be seen forever in print. It does not mean I am ashamed of my body or my past. I am proud as hell about what I have accomplished and overcome to be where I am today. Wanting to see yourself with fabulous hair, makeup and flawless skin, is not something to be ashamed of like we are being told it is. It’s about seeing ourselves for the sexy confident women we know we are or strive to be. It’s about polishing those little daily insecurities, so we can see how beautiful we truly are.

I get that not everyone will have this same viewpoint and that is okay. I get that there will always be those who over Photoshop clients(and clients who request to be made into something they are not)but I can assure you that many, many boudoir photographers feel the way I do. It’s not okay to shame a woman who may want a little more “polishing” nor is it okay to shame a woman who wants to keep it 100% real.

My job as a photographer who specializes in photographing women isn’t to turn you into something you are not, it’s to help you see your beauty, sensuality and the woman you are beneath it all.

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Confessions of a Boudoir Photographer | San Jose Bay Area Photographer

Juicing healthy veggies san jose

Gah! Why does being “healthy” have to be so time consuming?

You know what makes me feel better than a coffee in the afternoon… and I mean immediately feel better not that high and low? Fresh juice: as in 2 carrots, one apple, a little bit of kale, cucumber and a handful of spinach.

Instant energy boost and in a good way. But hell if that isn’t messy and time consuming. Popping a k-cup in the coffee maker, a splash of Baily’s creamer(non-alcoholic… most days)and whip cream is so much easier and let’s face it, ummm tasty.

Damn you evil conveniences!

Alas, I know which makes me feel better, truly better, so let’s just hope I can fight the convenience voices in my head and stick with the change this time. Pretty sure juicing three times a year isn’t quite cutting it. Neither is throwing away veggies because I never got around to actually juice them. And did I mention the cringing at how much I spent on that space consuming, dust collector that should be used for making me fresh juice?

Three times a week. That is my new goal.

Let’s do this!

P.S. Yes, I actually like the taste of these juices. Hahaha

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