The original UNmanual was released three and a half years ago and has sold close to 1000 copies.  It was more wildly successful than I could have ever imagined and hearing that it has helped so many of you capture the memories of your family so easily and effortlessly makes me so happy.  Because that’s how it should be.

It’s been quiet here on the blog not because I have nothing to share with you, but because I have been pouring myself into creating the UNmanual2.


The UNmanual2 is something I’ve been dreaming up for quite some time.  I wanted Mom*togs to be able to see how I interact with my own kids when I shoot, what the environment I shoot in looks like, and how I use light.  My kids, my house.  Nothing special or fancy, but just how I photograph my kids living their lives and doing their thing.

The UNmanual2 consists of 13 video guides and reviews all of the basics from the original UNmanual, so if you did not purchase the original UNmanual don’t worry.  The UNmanual2′s lesson based structure will ensure that you too become a master of DSLR manual shooting.  If you did purchase the original UNmanual, the basics of DSLR manual shooting will be a nice review, but I’ve also added a lot of content for those of you who have mastered the basics and are looking to take your photography to the next level.

To compliment the UNmanual2 I will be releasing the UNmanual Editing Guide next week.  It will consist of video tutorials on how I use Photoshop to enhance my images and get them to look like a better version of everyday life.

For those of you who purchase the UNmanual2 on Black Friday you will receive the UNmanual Editing Guide (priced at $149) for free the second it’s released! No code needed.  It will be added to your course page automatically!  You can register for the UNmanual2 here.

Also, I released a course on how to improve your Phonetography.  It’s completely free.  Just my little gift to you.  You can register for that course here.  

I hope you enjoy the new UNmanual as much as I enjoyed creating it!


Silhouettes and reflections.  My two most favorite things to shoot.  I look for reflections wherever there is water.  Puddles.  The beach.  Pools.  I love them.

I find that the later in the day it is the better and clearer the reflections are.  Low tide at a beach will also help.  Walk around your subject and figure out what angle the reflection is best.  And don’t overexpose too much.  In fact underexposing or exposing the image correctly will help make the reflection pop!

*** All images Canon 5D Mark II, 35 1.4

F 2.8, 1/400, ISO 500

IMG_4821 copy

F 2.8, 1/400, ISO 500

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F 2.8, 1/640, ISO 640

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F 2.8, 1/500, ISO 640

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Real Mom*tog – Hannah Jeng

I often get questions about upgrading equipment.  It’s easy to feel limited by the equipment you have.  But, there is something to be said about someone who can take incredible pictures without buying the latest and most expensive equipment.  If you know your camera and understand light you can get great images with whatever you have.

That is why I was so impressed with our Real Mom*tog Hannah Jeng from Happily Everly AfterHannah is a mom to two cute kiddos who is living in Chicago.  Her images are bright and happy and she is only working with a Canon T3i.  That is impressive, people!  Hannah recently gave some great tips on capturing movement over on the Mom*tog Instagram. You can see all Hannah’s tips here or search #momtoghannah on Instagram.  And be sure to follow Hannah’s personal account @happilyeverlyafter

*** Canon T3i, Sigma 17-50mm f2.8, f2.8, 1/60, ISO 400

Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

“Capturing movement [Part 1 of 2]: If you follow my personal account (@happilyeverlyafter) you’ve already seen this picture yesterday but I thought I’d share it here today to talk about how to deliberately capture movement.  There are many ways to create motion blur and it can be very hit or miss but here is what I’ve found to be useful:
1.  Slow down your shutter speed. When the shutter is open longer, the subject has more time to move across/within the frame to establish some kind of blur.
2.  Decrease your ISO.  By choosing a low number you will be able to have your shutter speed open longer without letting in too much light. Another way to compensate for the extra light is to narrow your aperture (higher f-stop number). 3.  Keep your camera perfectly still!  With your shutter open for longer, it’s essential that you keep steady.  If you have a tripod, use it!  As always, practice makes perfect! – Hannah @happilyeverlyafter #momtoghannah

*** Canon T3i, Sigma 17-50mm f2.8, f2.8, 1/8, ISO 200

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Capturing movement [Part 2 of 2]: Whenever my son is stuck on a homework problem, he shakes his pencil up and down while in deep concentration. I knew I wanted to capture that little nervous shake for my January photo project and to my surprise it was easier than I expected! I purposely had him do his homework in the living room where there’s plenty of light, set up my tripod, adjusted my settings, and patiently waited for the moment to happen.  It didn’t take many tries to get the perfect shot because with the exception of his fingers, he was perfectly still!
Because photography is an art form, there’s no right or wrong way to take pictures. I think the most important thing is to experiment (and have fun!). Happy shooting! – Hannah @happilyeverlyafter #momtoghannah

Real Mom*tog – Jessie Nelson


It’s been about 7 months since we started the Mom*tog Instagram account and I love the talented, kind, and fun group of women that have all joined in.  It’s such a supportive community of Mom*togs.  Many moderators are nervous when I ask them to contribute, but by the end of their week they end up having so much fun, making new friends and seeing just how much they were able to help fellow Mom*togs.  I even end up learning something new from each of them!

One commenter mentioned that she wished she could easily bookmark the tips on Instagram.  Since you can’t Pin or bookmark them over there I thought I’d start sharing the most well received tips here.  That way you can Pin them for easier reference later!

This week we had Jessie Nelson from Twin Falls, Idaho on talking about how to take pictures in the snow.  Jessie is a Mom*tog to two adorable boys and a professional photographer at Rock Creek Photography.  She gets a lot of practice taking pictures in the snow and, subsequently, her snow pictures are magical.  As many of you know, it’s not easy to get great snow pictures!  She gave a great tutorial on her settings and how she makes adjustments in Lightroom.

From Jessie:

*** Canon 6D with 50mm f/1.8 lens; ISO 250, f/2.5, 1/1250 Edited in Lightroom


“Good afternoon!  It’s Jessie (@jessieolean) again and right now I want to talk about how I personally shoot and edit pictures in the snow.  My favorite part!  First, I tend to overexpose +2/3 to +1 when shooting in such white conditions.  With all the light bouncing off the snow, my camera seems to think it’s plenty bright outside and underexposes my children’s faces.  So I compensate by overexposing.

I do 90% of my editing in Lightroom, especially when it comes to snapshots of my own children.  I can’t say enough good things about that program!  I love it.  When I bring a photo into Lightroom, I tend to work from the top down.  I don’t like my snow or faces to look blue, so I often warm up the temperature a notch or two.  In this particular photo I increased exposure +.10 and contrast +5.  I like my snow to be bright so I brought up the whites to +20, just before the right end of the histogram hit the right side of the box.  But I like to be able to see a bit of the detail in the snow so I lowered my highlights to -25.  I increased the shadows to +15 to see my son’s face better and decreased the blacks to -50.  Again, I like my histogram to take up the whole entire box and I like my blacks black. Vibrance is set to +15.  In the tone curve panel I added a slight S curve. Here comes the fun part: I LOVE playing with the radial filter and brushes.  My favorite ways to use a radial filter are to brighten my subject a notch or two inside the radius.  I may also use a second filter to decrease the exposure outside the radius, decrease shadows, and increase saturation.  This makes my subject stand out against the background.  I’m still experimenting and learning everyday, but this is my basic post-processing routine.  However, snow photos don’t always need any radial filters when the entire  background is white.  Use your creative juices and play!”

You can see all of Jessie’s snow picture tips here or by searching the hashtag #momtogjessie in Instagram.


I despise the word ginger, but I love a day that gives me an excuse to kiss my two redheads even more!

*** Canon 5D Mark II, 35 1.4

F 2.8, 1/320, ISO 400


F 2.8, 1/2000, ISO 400momtog.com

F 2.8, 1/320, ISO 400


F 2.0, 1/320, ISO 250


F 2.0, 1/800, ISO 500


F 2.0, 1/400, ISO 500


F 2.0, 1/320, ISO 250