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!

Halloween 2014

I’m not sure where Kennedy’s Sleeping Beauty obsession came from.  She has wanted to be Sleeping Beauty for the last 6 months.  Never once changing her mind.  I think it’s because the dress is pink.  And I also think she just wanted a new princess dress.  It would have been too easy to be Rapunzel, Alice, Anna, or Elsa because she already has those dresses.  Right?

*** Canon 5D Mark II, 24-70 2.8

F 2.8, 1/800, ISO 125


F 2.8, 1/1000, ISO 125


F 2.8, 1/1000, ISO 125


F 2.8, 1/1000, ISO 125


F 2.8, 1/1250, ISO 125


F 2.8, 1/500, ISO 125

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The Wild Kratts is Brayden’s favorite before school show.  And I was so relieved when I saw that they sold the vests!  I’m not very crafty.  But, then he insisted that his Dad be Martin so I still ended up having to make a vest.  I burned my finger so many times on that darn hot glue gun!  Totally worth it though, right?  Because the Halloweens that our kids will want to dress up with us are very limited now.

*** Canon 5D Mark II, 50 1.2

F 2.0, 1/250, ISO 125


F 2.8, 1/500, ISO 125


F 2.8, 1/250, ISO 320


F 2.0, 1/200, ISO 125


F 2.8, 1/160, ISO 400


Hope your Halloween is great!


The Gold Bridge

We are kind of crazy.  We kind of like driving thousands of miles with our kids going to new places and seeing new things.  Or at least we think we like it.  While we are actually in the midst of it it can be a little stressful.  Mostly fun.  But, a little stressful.

You may have seen last week we drove along the coast from Orange County to Portland.  This was our fourth one thousand plus road trip with our kids.  One of my favorite parts was going to San Francisco.  I’m not going to lie.  San Francisco might be one of my least favorite large cities.  I think it has something to do with the fact that I only associate it with earthquakes.  And it’s cold.  Always so cold.  But, Brayden has been in love with the idea of San Francisco for years.  The trollies and bridges are a big draw for little boys, I guess.  And, you know what?  I kind of fell in love with San Francisco this trip.  Because I got to see it through their eyes.  Kennedy is still talking about the Gold Bridge.

*** Canon 5D Mark II, 50 1.2

F 3.2, 1/800, ISO 125

IMG_5668I’ll be blogging more pictures from our trip soon.  But, perhaps I should blog our last two road trips first :)  So many pictures to edit.  So little time.

My New Normal

Hello old friends!  It’s great to see you again.  My name is Drew and I used to blog over here on Mom*tog.  It’s been awhile.  And I have so many thoughts whirling around in my head.  It feels good to be typing away on my keyboard.

This Summer was crazy.  It was busy and loud and messy.  And did I say busy?  It was Brayden’s first real Summer.  In the past he just continued right into Summer Camp at his school.  However, this Summer he did four weeks of camps and was home the rest of the Summer.  It was hectic.  And I was counting down the days until school started.

And then school started.  And my house was so quiet.  And you may have seen me crying in bed with my dog repeating the lyrics to “All By Myself” over and over again in my head on Instagram.

You see, this is my first time in 6 1/2 years without a kid with me.  I get two glorious mornings to myself every week.  At first it was sad.  And quiet.  But, then I realized holy crap, I can get so much work done in 4 hours all by myself.  4 hours without someone needing to go to the bathroom or needing a snack or just screaming at me for no reason.  Sessions were edited.  Craft rooms were organized.  Emails were answered.  Toys bins were cleaned out.  I can now work out 5 mornings a week.  I can hear myself think.  I may have even watched a little daytime TV.

Don’t get me wrong.  I miss my kids.  But, the best thing about this new normal is I can appreciate them so much more when I am with them.  I can focus on helping Brayden with his homework rather than half focusing on him and half editing sessions or answering emails.  I can play with Kennedy on the mornings she’s home instead of letting the TV babysit her while I just get a few more things done.  In the past two weeks I have sat down at my computer out of habit when the kids are home and I have to remind myself that I don’t need to work.  It’s all done.

I really felt I balanced being a working mom really well up until this last year.  This last year was tough.  I don’t know if it is all the extracuricular activities.  Or the homework.  Or just that the kids are older.  I had always been such a good “singletasker”.  But, this year I was spread thin.  I was impatient and stressed.  And I know it’s only the second week into school, but I feel good.  I feel great.  I feel like I’m getting a little bit of me back with those two mornings a week.  And that’s cool.  Because I missed her.

*** Isn’t this schoolhouse crazy cute?  It’s not our school.  I wish it was our school.  We went on a day trip to Julian and I packed up the clothes and props for back to school pictures just in case I happened upon a cool location.  I like to take back to school pictures a few days before school begins.  Sure, I take a few pictures on the actual first day of school, but I would rather just be Mom than Mom*tog.  They are nervous.  I’m nervous.  It just works out better for everyone to get the fun pictures out of the way before the actual first day.

***Canon 5D Mark II, 50 1.2

This school was amazing, but it was in the absolute worst light.  The front was in direct sunlight as the sun was setting.  While I was waiting for the sun to set I took the kids to the side of the building for a few shots.  The second the sun wasn’t directly on the front of the school I started taking pictures there because we only had a few minutes before it got too dark.

F 2.0, 1/320, ISO 250

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F 2.8, 1/200, ISO 500

I switched my aperture here to make sure I got both Kennedy and the chalkboard in focus.

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F 2.0, 1/320, ISO 250 IMG_8234 copy

F 2.8, 1/250, ISO 400 IMG_8249 copy IMG_8258 copy IMG_8266 copy IMG_8282 copy

F 2.8, 1/400, ISO 250 IMG_8307 copy IMG_8326 copy IMG_8365 copy IMG_8374 copy

F 2.8, 1/320, ISO 250

As the sun started to set and it was getting darker by the second I had to decrease my shutter speed to allow in more light.IMG_8388 copy IMG_8411 copy

F 2.8, 1/400, ISO 250

Can you tell someone was excited to start school?IMG_8426 copy IMG_8431 copy


My Nephew

Chuck and I celebrated our nine year wedding anniversary on July 16.  And that very same day I became an Aunt.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d ever be an Aunt.  When my brother, Jeff, started dating Kelly I became a little more hopeful.  She’s always been so good with my kids.  She’s a natural.

I remember sitting with her on the couch at my parent’s house on Christmas Eve.  My kids were being their normal loud selves and Kelly mentioned that when they have kids it’s going to be even louder.  I remember saying to her, “Well, that’s not going to be for a long time!”.  And Kelly laughed.  She kind of has this little mischievous laugh.  Like, ha, you are so wrong.

I didn’t think much of it until on Christmas when she hands my Mom a gift that looked like a picture frame.  See, exactly three years before on Christmas we told my parents I was pregnant with Kennedy by giving them a picture frame with an ultrasound in it.  So, as soon as I saw my mom tear back the corner I knew what it was.  Kelly was videotaping the whole thing and you can just hear me screaming “Oh my god!” over and over again.  It was a huge surprise.  A great surprise.

Kelly asked me to be in the delivery room and I was really honored.  I was so grateful that I go to be there to see my nephew being born.  It really is the coolest thing to see a brand new person start their life.  Kelly was so unbelievably brave.  Way braver than I was when I had my kids.  Like I said, she’s a natural.  And I’m really proud of my brother too.  You can see how much love he has for his little boy.  He’s a great dad.

I don’t have any cousins and I always felt like I was missing out.  I’m so happy for my kids to have a cousin (hopefully cousins).  They are both so in love with him.  And they were so excited to get to see him on his birthday.

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Jace just turned one month old and it seems like he’s been with us so much longer.  It seems like he has always been part of our family.  We are looking forward to seeing him grow.  Specifically my kids who don’t understand why he sleeps all the time :)

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