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Welcome to the third installment of The Mom Blog Collective: Tips for Better Photography & a Cohesive Instagram Feed. 

If you’re new here, here’s the scoop. Every other week, a group of amazing and inspiring mamas will answer the same set of questions to do with blogging, Instagram, photography, collaborations, sponsored posts, balancing it all with motherhood, and more. This week they invited me to join in!

We each have different perspectives and different opinions, so this is a fun way to learn from one another. We hope you’ll join along! Check out the hashtag #themomblogcollective to see everyone on Instagram, and I will also link you to all of the amazing blog posts here at the bottom of my post!

Lex has started asking why we take so many pictures. I mean, I can’t exactly blame her- my girls are no strangers to having a camera shoved in their face. But my answer is simple – I want to remember them exactly how they are. I want to remember their personalities, and I really want them to look back at their outfits and wonder what the f I was thinking.

I get a lot of questions about photography. I want to start by saying I’m no expert- but it is something I enjoy a lot, and I’m passionate about everyone having a camera roll (or instagram feed) full of pictures they can be proud of. So here are my deepest and darkest secrets to getting good pictures.


Let’s talk equipment. I have three cameras. iPhone 7+, a fujifilm x100f, and a canon 5d Mark ii. All three have their place, and I truly think you can take amazing photos on just about anything. My phone is the most handy, its always with me, and i can usually count on it. My Fuji is small enough to toss in a bag- but powerful enough when i was something more than my phone. And my canon (with a 35mm 1.4 lens) is a beast that’s best for times when all we’re doing in taking photos.

I think the trick is to prepare the best you can and just roll with it. If we’re going someplace (like to disneyland) i’ll just use my fuji or my iPhone. If we go on an adventure with the sole purpose of getting photos i’ll bring my Canon (like getting our christmas tree!). If I know lighting will be tricky- I’ll pull out all the stops and definitely use my Canon because it has the best low-light capabilities (Christmas morning is the perfect example).

Always shoot on manual. Know your camera inside and out. Be able to manipulate it to best suit your style. There are so many cameras out there (like the fuji!) that will show you exactly how you photo will turn out (technology rocks!).

(taken with my fuji)


I edit in two places. My phone and in photoshop.

There are a few apps I’m extremely loyal to.

  • FACETUNE– this is the one all the kids are using. ever wonder how some people have the smoothest skin you’ve ever seen and then BAM in person (or in their instagram stories) you’re horrified to find the truth? Yeah, its alllll the “smooth” feature in facetune. BUT i’m straight up obsessed with “lighter” filter to brighten any photo. Its the hands down BEST lightening tool in all the land.
  • PICTAPGO– I have a special place in my heart for this app because i also use totally rad actions in photoshop- so i can edit my photos using the same filters on my phone OR computer. and i really do love having cohesive photos.
  • RETOUCH– this app is so damn handy for taking distracting things out of pictures. like pipes, or other beach go-ers in the ocean.
  • LIGHTROOM– I just can’t quit this app. it has some of the features i LOVE in photoshop (like curves) but on my phone in much much much simpler form.


Here’s the part where i’m supposed to talk about when to post photos and which ones do the best. But let me tell you. Who the hell knows. I honestly can’t decipher what the masses want and when they want it. My engagement is all over the place, and i truly think there are too many other factors at play to know what and when something will do well (but its almost guaranteed that posting on the weekend will NOT get you likes- but posting a photo of yourself bald will).

Instead i want to tell you this about your feed & being successful. DO YOU. That’s it. It’s that easy! Know your style & audience and roll with it. People can tell when you’re being fake, when your captions don’t match your photo, or when you’re trying too hard. Its like how guys can smell a desperate girl. The media masses can smell desperation from a mile away and just won’t engage if you’re fake. Draw inspiration from feeds and people you admire- but put your own spin on it. Be confident enough in yourself to think for yourself and outside the box. I promise your followers will thank you!

Find your style and run with it. Do you love pictures where your kids are looking at the camera smiling? Do you love blurry backgrounds? Do you love color? Candids? Dark and moody? Find what YOU love and do it! When we’re out on an adventure i look for spots to take pictures of my girls. I know i love color (and white walls), and typically don’t do well with busy backgrounds. I know what lighting works (direct sunlight is always a recipe for failure). I try to get a most posed photos “out of the way” first before everyone is tired and moody and the kids will cooperate. Does it always work? nope! Do i sometimes get frustrated with k because she REFUSES to take direction? You betcha! But heres my secret with getting the girls to participate. . . lex LOVES the camera. She takes direction wonderfully and i direct her– “whisper something in k’s ear! try to put the hat on her!” Getting the girls to interact with each other is key to me! it keeps k entertained enough to not realize what she’s doing and run straight for me, and makes the photos more candid. oh, and bribes work if all else fails. I’ve found that getting angry and stomping my feet when they don’t participate doesn’t ever go over well. So learn when to give up.

And that’s it! I truly think it comes down to just knowing your style and getting down with your bad self!

Here are this weeks contributors:

occasionallyperfectstyle.com | @occasionally_perfect

mrsseacannon.com | @mrsseacannon

britthavens.com | @britthavens

koleimpressions.com | @steph__pollock

cultivatemotherhood.com | @cultivatemotherhood

www.ashleynoel.life | @_ashley_noel_

hellobabybrown.com | @hellobabybrown

darlingnightingale.com | @darlingnightingale

www.a-blessed-nest.com | @blessednestblog

thelovedesignedlife.com | @thelovedesignedlife


thebajas.blogspot.com | @hopefeathers

 psimfromthemidwest.com |  @hollynbaron


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  • September 6, 2017 - 12:52 pm

    Rosie Parsons - Great tips and totally gorgeous photography! Loving it and will be sharing! xx

  • September 24, 2017 - 4:23 pm

    Sara - Lightroom on my phone. There’s something I haven’t considered yet.

  • October 16, 2017 - 8:55 am

    Karli Bell - can you start doing like to know it so i can shop your instagram? thaaaaanks.

Our summer rapidly came to a close last week when lex launched herself into kindergarten. If there’s one thing lex seems to do well it’s big life transitions (except getting a sister. that one rocked her world for a solid 10 months) – and she seems to be handling kindergarten flawlessly.

I even have a major crush on her teacher because lex comes home saying things like “if you don’t have anything nice to say- just don’t say it”, and “ms brown told us if we don’t like what someone’s eating for lunch we should just keep it inside. So when I saw Chloe had cheese dippers and they looked bad I didn’t tell her. I kept it inside”, and “Angie told me there’s a teacher at school named Mr. Chin- but we aren’t allowed to make fun of him”… such words of wisdom from a 5 year old.

I feel like the lady in the back to school video everyone’s been watching. “You’re going to help me teach my kid not to be an ass hole? I’ll be room mom! And I’ll be the best damn room mom ever”.

Oh yes. Mike thinks he “maybe accidentally checked that box” on the online paperwork. But I have been looking for a new challenge since chemo ended. So bring it on K5.

Now k. Dear sweet k. Who starts preschool this week and isn’t going to know what hit her for three hours, three times a week. I mean the girl needs a crash course in 1. Time away from me and 2. Playing with kids her age. I have a feeling it’s going to be a rough transition for her (I mean she’s been going to kids club at the gym for a year and still managed to cry for 30 minutes last week after I dropped her off. They watch iPads and built forts- I assure you she’s not hard done by).

I’m off to the hotter than hell land of Palm Springs this week for a little girls trip. One involving lots of power influencers and hopefully a lot of rose and avocado toast. It’s weird spending four days with nine girls you’ve “met” online. But alas every single Instagram relationship I’ve had turning IRL relationship hasn’t been awkward. So here’s hoping these aren’t either. And there’s nothing I love more than getting to know a group of girls in my swimsuit (barf).

and now for pictures totally unrelated to anything in this post. . . but the girls are cute soooo.

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  • September 4, 2017 - 5:16 pm

    Sara - OOOH. You changed your blog! Lex is a natural at kindergarten… can’t wait to see how K does with pre-school. I bet she’ll love it in no time… I mean, how can she not?! Well… except for the whole getting dirty part. Have fun in Palm Springs… don’t replace me! 🙂

  • September 5, 2017 - 7:47 am

    Courtney Spena - New blog design!! LOVE IT!

    I can’t wait to see your Palm Springs trip!

  • September 5, 2017 - 9:02 am

    Heidi - The girls are adorable. Lex looks just like you, as you already. You look fabulous and so glad things are going well.
    Take care.
    Hugs and Kisses to you all

  • September 5, 2017 - 1:02 pm

    Rosie - Rosie Parsons Photography - Her teacher sounds really awesome. My kids started school today and I am beyond grateful for free education – it’s amazing really when you think about it! I’m very relieved it’s not all down to me, lol!

  • September 5, 2017 - 1:43 pm

    Joseph Gray - Congrats on your negative PET scan.

    Peace be with you.

alright party people. in approximately 30 days (not that I’m counting or anything) i’ll have TWO children in school. You read that right, i’ll have a whopping three mornings a week to work on my mom-bod, grocery shop, and try to squeeze in every single doctor, nail, and lash appointment into a three hour time span. oh and to catch up on the television thats too inappropriate for my children, and too trashy for my husband.

i know sending your kids off to school is bittersweet, i know i should feel “all of the feels” but the girls are so damn excited to go- its hard not to get swept up in the excitement right along with them. plus i LOVE back to school shopping (shoes, clothes, and supplies). K is starting preschool. A play based preschool. Which means i need to send her in clothes that will go the distance- they need to hold up under the most extreme paint, dirt, and mud pit circumstances. they’ll be washed approx. 10,000 times for about 10,000 various stains. Meanwhile Lex is starting kindergarten- so she wants a more grown up wardrobe- but one that’s still playful and fun (and one that she can have an opinion about). they both also need shoes- of the closed toe variety. and i dont want to compromise style for functionality- thankfully we happen to know of a brand that does it all.

enter Boden!

we LOVE Boden .  i’m a huge fangirl of their tights, knits, and everything in between. everything just seems to hold up- and I’ve passed more than a few things from lex to k. i LOVE that you can mix and match just about anything on their site and you can’t go wrong! so with the girls going back to school and back to cool heres a glimpse of what they’ll be rocking this year.





Now for the big giveaway: We’ve teamed up with 6 other bloggers to give away a $1,000 Boden shopping spree! Enter using the Rafflecopter below. Also, be sure to visit their posts for more Back to School styles, tips and fun ideas. Here’s where to visit: The Chirping Moms, Jordan & Co, Hello Erin, Seven Graces, Sweet Southern Prep, Girl in the Red Shoes and Being Brickner. You’ll love the outfits and fun photos they’ve all come up with!

Good luck and we can’t wait to announce the winner of the $1,000 Boden giveaway!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


here’s a glimpse of what we would get with $1,000 to one of our favorite brands!

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  • August 8, 2017 - 7:22 am

    Karie - Love the red boots!

  • August 8, 2017 - 7:26 am

    Natasha - Just flipped their their catalogue! Love their bright graphic tees and prints! Would be perfect to kick-start Ethan’s kindergarten wardrobe!

  • August 8, 2017 - 7:30 am

    Chloe - Love this giveaway! And love your blog. So glad you are back!

  • August 8, 2017 - 7:48 am

    Ally Dewildt - I don’t know who is more obsessed with the rainbow high tops, one of us is 37 and the other is 6! Need to go into my cart asap.

  • August 8, 2017 - 8:10 am

    Amanda Bradshaw - Mini Boden clothing is so dang cute! I’d love those overalls on my kindergartener!

  • August 8, 2017 - 8:20 am

    Chelsea Fischer - I think I commented on the wrong post before… trying again! Obsessed with those overalls for back to school! We LOVE Boden – super high quality clothes that are SO cute.

  • August 8, 2017 - 8:23 am

    Julie - I love Mini Boden! My baby starts kindergarten next week and we would love some new outfits! Those overalls are amazing.

  • August 8, 2017 - 8:27 am

    Rachael - Your posts crack me up. I love seeing new ones!!

  • August 8, 2017 - 8:34 am

    Rachelle bell - Boden has the best stuff!

  • August 8, 2017 - 8:59 am

    Katie - Such cute girls! And such cute clothes!

  • August 8, 2017 - 8:59 am

    Brittany - Love the leggings!

  • August 8, 2017 - 9:01 am

    Jillian senner - Please!! Amazing stuff!

  • August 8, 2017 - 9:02 am

    sara - I MUST WIN THIS!! I need all the Boden!!

  • August 8, 2017 - 9:20 am

    K S - These photos of your girls are wonderful! Love your style, love your story!

  • August 8, 2017 - 10:21 am

    Kayla - Love the overalls!! and the peter pan collar sweater 🙂

  • August 8, 2017 - 11:14 am

    Madison Brower - Those overalls! Do they make them in adult sizes??

  • August 8, 2017 - 11:34 am

    Christy East - We LOVE Mini Boden Clothes!!!

  • August 8, 2017 - 11:38 am

    Jaclyn - We love Boden

  • August 8, 2017 - 11:38 am

    B - Oh I love Boden and that my little boy can match my little girls! WIN! I adore all of their dresses with my dress obsessed little girls, I also love the peter pan collar shirts under the jumpers and under overalls. Must have it all and with three littles to dress, this would be fantastic 🙂

  • August 8, 2017 - 2:23 pm

    Corinne Wright - I am seriously loving those rainbow sneakers! And I always love Boden’s applique t-shirts and dresses. So pretty, soft, and durable!

  • August 8, 2017 - 2:29 pm

    Nicole H - I just LOVE LOVE LOVE the Navy Cat Animal Overall Dress. It is so adorable and perfect for my cat-loving daughter.

  • August 8, 2017 - 5:49 pm

    Sam - Loved reading your blog, wish you wrote more but I 100% get it. You’re crushing it in every other part of your life! Also love Boden!

  • August 8, 2017 - 6:00 pm

    crystal - Glad to have your posts back! LOVE these outfits!!

  • August 8, 2017 - 6:23 pm

    Courtney Ramsey - SO DARN CUTE!

  • August 9, 2017 - 6:51 am

    Jolene - So many cute things. I have a twirly girl, so the first place I go is to the SKIRTS section! But I also am a fan of their leggings and jackets.

  • August 9, 2017 - 6:39 pm

    Kim - So much cuteness! Your girls always look adorable! Right now I’m loving the airplane dress that we are thinking of getting to an upcoming trip!

  • August 11, 2017 - 7:55 am

    Malia - I’ve got a dress obsessed girl so that’s where I head first

  • August 11, 2017 - 8:02 am

    Morgan Suarez - Eeeee I hope I win!

  • August 11, 2017 - 8:02 am

    Sabrina - I love those overalls!!

  • August 11, 2017 - 8:34 am

    Laura - The red boots did me in.

  • August 11, 2017 - 4:48 pm

    Anna Pry - my daughters would love to mix and match the big applique t-shirts and fun leggings

  • August 14, 2017 - 1:38 am

    Ly - Are you kidding me with these pics? SOOO ADORABLE

  • August 14, 2017 - 11:25 am

    Stephanie Murphy - My daughter is starting preschool in 3 weeks and would love to wear the Animal Overall Dress! Super cute!

  • August 18, 2017 - 9:40 pm

    Danielle carlson - Love those rainbow hightops the mostest but there are so many other great statement pieces I would love to buy.

  • August 19, 2017 - 5:34 am

    Naomi - I love Bodens style and definitely need clothes for my daughter that can hold up to the wash. I’m thinking of starting capsule wardrobes for my kids and this would be a great place to start!

  • August 19, 2017 - 2:27 pm

    Rachael - Love the striped top with the Peter Pan collar

I’m baaaaaaack. Reporting to you live from the couch where k has decided to take her cat nap. Because heaven forbid she nap in her real bed so I can get a few hours to myself. Girlfriend is lucky she’s adorable. Mondays are usually my cushy day. My MIL takes the girls one at a time- so nap time is my only time to catch up on the tv shows Mike refuses to watch with me (things like the real housewives & famous in love).

anyhow. lately I’ve been lacking any sort of outlet. i haven’t been taking pictures, i haven’t been working out- i haven’t really felt like ME.  Now that I’m back to the gym (hallelujah. this lemon meringue pie weight isn’t going to lose itself), i have endorphins (endorphins make you happy!), and i want to start taking pictures again. bonus points that my new little camera shoots video easily- and i’m just hipster enough to make mini-movies of the ladies.

The weather lately has been spring perfection. Its not too hot, its not too cold and all you need is a light jacket. Which is fortunate because lately lex has been begging to wear her bikini to school (that girl loves to show her abs. first her obsession with jazz tops and now bikinis). I have yet to actually give into her requests – mostly because she comes home covered in paint from her bow to her shoes and everything in between. . . her wardrobe is really excited for kindergarten.

i wish i could say we’ve been more interesting than that. but its monday. and i have 0 stellar stories to dazzle you with to prove i have the cutest, smartest, and bestest babes ever (i’d settle for best dressed).

And that it. You get a whopping 3.5 paragraphs for my first non-cancer blog post.

romper / hat



girls suits

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  • May 15, 2017 - 11:33 pm

    Ly - Two terrible but amazing movie quotes in one post? Legend.

    Did you get a new camera? What kind? Share share the details!

    sending lots of love your way! x

  • May 16, 2017 - 6:22 am

    Sara - YES. what is this new camera you speak of?! Tell K I said she needs to start feeling better. April 15th weather isn’t going to last forever. I’d love you for you to drop off my workout motivation. Maybe we need to be buds? I’m totally texting you about this later.

  • May 16, 2017 - 6:46 am

    Liz - LOVE IT! And love your new camera!!! Share the videos because you are amazing at them! So glad you’re feeling like your old self again! Bring on the photos!

  • May 16, 2017 - 7:11 am

    Crystal - You always capture the best photos! I want to know more about this new camera and I want to see some of those videos!!

  • May 20, 2017 - 9:28 am

    Laura Keenan - So happy to hear you are getting back into the gym and your camera! And I’m so excited for videos! And for you to teach me all the things!

  • August 8, 2017 - 8:19 am

    Chelsea Fischer - Obsessing over those overalls! We LOVE Boden – such high quality clothes that are so cute.

  • August 8, 2017 - 6:54 pm

    Whitney - Okay, first of all, Welcome baaaccck. Second,just posted tinny stories on Instagram the other day that people who speak fluent movie quote and insert it in to their vicublary like it ain’t no thang are my favorite because… Just when I thought it wasn’t possible to love you more! (I’m normal…promise!) Third, tell me more about this camera!? I want one that does both but is also somewhat easy to use! Any tips?

I figured I might as well finish these recaps so I can get back to using this space to tell cute adorable stories about my two roommates – the ones of the five and under variety.

Plus. I’m ready to kiss six rounds of chemo goodbye. Not a long kiss- a short awkward peck on the cheek because I’m not at all sad to watch it from the rear view mirror.

Alright. We got smart these last few rounds. We shipped the ladies off the grandparents for the majority of the week. The girls have been wonderful through all of this- but the last few hit them hard. They turned into little barnacles making it impossible to lay in bed while binging on shows targeted towards teenagers. So off to grandmas they went- where they had a LOT more fun (I mean. My parents have a pool. And take them to the toy store).

So. Basically I laid in bed. Eating horrible food (a mix of steroids and nausea means I didn’t make good choices). Just biding time between doctors appointments every day and praying for Friday to come sooner. And gaining 15 lbs (thank you steroids. and lemon meringue pie).

Round five came and went. Round six came and went.

When I first started I honestly thought at the end of round 6 I would feel like celebrating hard. Instead I finished and started crying. I still catch myself crying out of sheer thankfulness that the chemo portion of this “journey” is over. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do- I mean where was all of this when I was writing my college essays about lifes hardships? Most of my symptoms are gone and i still don’t feel celebratory, i won’t until May 26th when i get my PET scan which will seal my fate. Because my good friend lymphoma is either still there- or it isn’t (crazy right?! one or the other. bet you didnt see that coming). and only that PET scan will give us the answer.

and yes its 2 weeks out and i’m already having PET scan nightmares.

So. until May 26th we’re in a holding pattern. trying to get back to what our lives looked like before December 8th. I’m back to the gym, carting the girls to their activities, and it feels so good being able to watch them by myself for full days at a time. i finally feel like a FUN parent. i’m able to play with them (mostly) keep up with them, and they’re no longer riding the “mom’s not feeling well i can get away with stuff” train. Ive also curbed my online shopping habits- laying in bed all day really lends itself to a little too much web time.

oh yeah. and i FINALY got a wig! i still usually go bald. . . but some days i just want to hide the cancer.

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  • May 12, 2017 - 8:10 am

    Cathy - The last picture says it all.

  • May 12, 2017 - 9:46 am

    Heidi - You are beautiful with or without your hair. So glad that light is shining at the end of this horrible tunnel. GREAT NEWS IS COMING YOUR WAY ON MAY 26TH.
    Hugs and Kisses

  • May 12, 2017 - 7:48 pm

    Sara - SO.

    Celebrations start May 26?

  • May 13, 2017 - 7:11 am

    Joseph - Awesome to hear that 6 has come and gone. I will continue to pray for you and your family throughout your life. I am hopeful for the PET scan results to be negative. I am thankful for your MD and all your caretakers who cared for you. I am thankful for the technology we have to fight cancer and win. I am thankful for Mike being by your side; your parents able to help with the kids; and the joyful youth of your children who bring joy and love into your life. GOD BLESS!
    – Pece be with you.

  • May 13, 2017 - 8:00 pm

    julie - You amaze me. I still can’t believe this is happening, but you have been so honest and real through it all. And I admire the sh*t out of you. You truly are gorgeous inside and out and I am beyond honored to have you as a friend. LOVE YOU.

  • May 15, 2017 - 11:21 am

    Blair - You are such a strong woman, you’ve conquered the 6 rounds of chemo like a beast! I cannot imagine what it is like to ensure dealing with that and babies. I imagine it is a good distraction for the grandparents to have the grandbabies instead of obsessing over their baby going through this! Praying hard and long that May 26 gives you the all clear! What is it about chemo and lemon flavors?

  • May 15, 2017 - 8:52 pm

    Desiree - I’m calling it. May 26th is one big, bad a$s celebration.
    Love you, friend.

  • May 16, 2017 - 6:51 am

    Liz - I somehow missed this! And I was actually wondering if you were going to post a round 5 and 6 “recap” if you will. I’m so sorry.
    I’m so, SO happy for you that the official chemo rounds are over and you can get some semblance back of your regular, every day life! You are one strong mama and kicked those chemo rounds in the a$$ and to the curb. Fingers crossed for May 26th and we can start the celebration that night! Love you so much! xo

  • May 20, 2017 - 9:47 am

    Laura Keenan - Thinking about you lots as May 26th approaches! Hoping lots of celebrating is in your future. Pitbull dance party perhaps?!

  • May 22, 2017 - 2:26 pm

    Jen Cantway - You are a real life SUPER HERO!!! Sending all the positive thoughts I can on May 26th!!! YOU GOT THIS!

  • June 2, 2017 - 2:13 pm

    Lauren - You are amazing and so strong! Incredible!! Warrior woman!! Love the last picture!!