Teaching my daughter all about PRIDE and identity this month, it’s so important that she feels safe when it comes to talking about sexuality and that she is comfortable in herself despite the different environments she will be in. It got me thinking about my own experiences growing up, I have always been fairly open about my sexuality but only to those I’m most comfortable with. Most people don’t know the first person I ever fancied was actually a girl…but the environments I was brought up in was that you went off and got married to a man and anything else was weird. I went to an all girls school, I never knew of a single lesbian in that school in the time I was there….well that felt safe to come out. I feel like I had the privilege and option of boys to distract me from my feelings towards girls so that’s the way I went. I can’t even imagine what my lesbian peers were going through at the time and each time I see another girl from my school being open with her female partner on social media, it makes me smile. I still feel like my sexuality is nobody else’s business, but it’s important to share the fluidity of sexuality and the importance of this platform and having a voice so that our children will never have to grow up feeling like they’re weird because of feelings. I sure as hell will not let my daughters suppress theirs 🏳️🌈
For Mental Health Awareness Week our house was filled with Colour, both my 10 year old daughter and I are very sensory creatures and we love to express our thoughts and feelings using colours which is both calming and fun. We have been talking about each colour and what each colour means to us like what does a particular colour feel like? What does this colour sound like? To our suprise, we came up with everything from the feelings of anger, the smell of grass to nostalgic hairstyles and Disney princesses.
It’s been a fun project creating the masks and getting into characters for what I think each colour represents to me but what is your favourite colour and what does it mean to you?
Check out the behind the scenes on our Instagram page!
Here are just a few of the things people have said to me when they see my face. Growing up I had a few spots like most teenagers, but what I didn’t know is that when I got pregnant I would suffer with postpartum acne so severe that my face itches, it hurts to put make up on and i’m so embarrassed by my skin to the point I don’t even want to go outside. My closest family and friends know about this, it goes away once I stop breastfeeding although scars remain but otherwise I really hate talking about it let alone sharing pictures of it. My daughter is always telling me to get in the photos without my make up she says I’m beautiful the way I am, half the time I don’t because I know how bad I feel looking at them. I started a project called Mums Get In The Photograph last year which encourages mums to get in the photographs even though at times we don’t want to, and I realised that this was the start of me opening up to being a more honest version of myself in front of the camera. Watching my daughter be so brave recently made me realise I want to be brave now… I’m always honest in my photography and this is the most vulnerable thing I have ever shared and have wanted to share for such a long time but I was too scared until now…. but if I don’t show how normal this is to love myself like this, taking beautiful portraiture in my natural skin how can I teach my daughters to? This is an act of self love….and I’m selfishly loving myself right now…
‘We have to be women we want our daughters to be.’
After sharing the above image recently, I have started to embrace my natural skin and share images with minimal retouching. Recently after sharing the image on social media below in cherry blossoms, I had an uneccessary comment that brought up a whole lot of issues I feel are in the industry. I don’t often get angry let alone share about it on social media but what happened to me was part of a bigger problem within this industry and I am angry about it and so should you be. Some of the comments on my post sharing my views really shocked me trying to tell me I was in the wrong, telling me it was my lack of technical knowledge and that I was too sensitive to understand what they meant. Do you think this is the only comment that has ever been said to me or that I have witnessed within photography? No….if you think for one second that this isn’t a problem, then you are part of the problem. Despite the negativity, it hasn’t come close to the amount of support I have received. I hate being centre of attention and I hate drama but the day I shared an image of me with my postpartum acne was the day everything changed with me for my photography….for my daughter’s sake I will continue to share minimally retouched images of our skin and them to watch me educate and teach other people that it’s beautiful. For whatever reason, the original commenter felt the need to reach out and apologise to me, and it’s a start. Let’s be in a world where we can make mistakes and then we grow from them. I will be part of the change…
I still feel like there aren’t enough images out there that represent faces like mine, especially around adolescence as this is something I am particuarly passionate about within my photography work. My daughter returned to school this week and was anxious as she has started to get a few spots and was worried about what others might think. Even though I tell her otherwise, encouraging her to love herself, it shows that I can only do so much….but I will show her how empowering it is to love yourself and to continue documenting it within my images. Since posting these images, I have had so many women come forward sharing their own thoughts and journey’s of living with acne and a lot of them feeling like they were the only one! I will do everything in my power now to use my camera and my face as a tool of helping other women to show that they are not the only one and that we are all simply beautiful. This is for my daughters.
Last weekend I took one photo every hour on the hour as part of the Phlock Live #phlocklifeinblackandwhite Weekend Mini Challenge. It was so lovely to see and enjoy my home in a different way, and I although I am a total perfectionist I loved being restricted to what was right in front of me…We had such a wonderful day which ended with a shadow play that totally failed as it collapsed and we all fell about laughing 😂 (I put two of these images in because I loved them so much!) Although it was a challenge for me having to set my alarm and think on the spot every hour, I felt like I spent more quality time with my girls than I have in ages and was really enjoying watching them just be their beautiful selves…I did a similar project about 10 years ago when I took one photo every hour for 24 hours and each hour had a different theme…it was really intense but I have wanted to do it again for a while. I will be doing an hourly challenge over at my little photography community Wild Rose Family very soon for anybody looking to challenge themselves creatively, so come get involved!
With Love Flat Lay is a project born out of LOckTh
With Love Flat Lay was born in Lockdown 3.0 and inspired by previous projects such as Rainbow Garage Doors. After homeschooling a 10 year old and having to look after a toddler as well things, can get a bit tedious at home and although I loved my last Lockdown project Window Series I longed for a bit more colour in my photography and also my Instagram feed. This project took a couple of weeks to do and I started with the rainbow first and the rest sort of followed. It’s suprising how much you find of the the same colour when you start looking for it….I had my eldest look around the house for all the coloured items and we styled and photographed it whilst the little one napped, once she woke up there was this amazing sensory experience for her to play with! I super enjoyed this project, it’s taken a while to clear up but it was totally worth it! I don’t think this will be my last colourful project, so checkout my Instagram With Love From A to Z and why not try your own flat lay using the hashtag #withloveflatlay
Here is my Lockdown Part 2 project! With Love From Our Window is pretty much what it says on the tin, we all have spent so much time staring at windows I started to see how beautiful they could be. I had to re-edit all my previous images I have shared, I really struggle with seeing colour and I can’t always see yellow so it takes me a ridiculous amount of time to try correct them. Anyways…another project I have completed for 2020 and I love every single one of them…
I’ve not slept longer than three hours since the day you were born, and my house is always a mess. Don’t even get my started on what I’m wearing today, let’s just call my old nightie a dress…
You whinge when you want something, you whinge when you don’t, you whinge all hours day and the night. You follow me around like you haven’t seen me all day, but I’m pretty sure I’ve not left your sight.
Now you’re tugging my pants while I’m trying to go for a wee, please could you just leave me alone for a minute? I’m trying to do my teeth, attempting a shower or bath, the next thing you’ve helped yourself in it.
Finally nap time comes along, time to fit the chores in and dare I wish for a well deserved cuppa? And as I sit down for a minute, with some cake and a book, a little voice from upstairs cries out ‘Mamma!’.
Most of the days are the same, eat, poop, sleep, repeat, and you don’t know which one to do when. I spend the day cleaning up something I’ve cleaned a thousand times before, singing the same nursery rhymes again and again.
Tea times a laugh, I thought baby led weaning is great, I now realise I forgot what this means. It’s meant to help you eat, instead you use your feet, painting all over my kitchen with beans.
Now it’s time for your bath, I won’t lie it gets wet but still a second to rest, so I think. But that sweet girl in bubbles, did a big messy poop, surely by now it’s time for a drink?!
It’s time to wind down, it’s going a little too well, until your sister starts sofa jumping for fun. Have children they said, it will be fun they all said, as you dream of that spa day for one.
Bedtime comes, getting you to sleep can be good, you’ll drift off holding your blanket so tight. But then sometimes you’ll cry, I try to leave you just scream, I guess that’s me by your side for the night.
Motherhood is a mission, it’s exhausting and messy, it’s something they didn’t teach me at school. But when you’re finally asleep, my heart fills up with love, and I think ‘I’d do it all again’ mum bun and all.
When we first started talking, I couldn’t believe it when Alex told me his my birthday was the day after mine. This year we got to celebrate our birthday’s together and all I wanted to do was take some images to celebrate our recent engagement. I clearly had forgotten just how hard it is to capture a series of photographs with a remote trigger… and also we have kids so they were impatiently watching us do these after the school run! Then the most bizarre thing happened to me today and it just put everything into perspective about mine and Alex’s relationship. Now bear with me while I try to explain…
So I was tidying up the house today and I came across a pen top that had somehow come off of it’s other half. I thought there was very little hope of finding the pen even though I had seen it about, and I was too busy to care so I just decided to throw it in the bin. To my surprise a little while later, I typically find the pen just sat there staring up at me. I couldn’t believe my timing, I had only just chucked this pen top away! As I peered into the dirty bin bag, I really didn’t want to go digging through the dirt just to make the pen complete when I probably have plenty of pens about. I gave up on this weird scenario and chucked the pen in the bin too and thought nothing else of it. After tidying up, i’m taking the bin down the stairs and the bin bag gets caught and breaks. Out comes a few items and guess what comes out with it? This tiny bloody pen top! Now I know there’s something weird going on, I am just gobsmacked that these two little items, so desperate to find each other that I think what the hell i’ll go and get my hands dirty to make this happen! Now I’m looking through all this rubbish, you name it, it’s there, examining bit by bit, and this pen is nowhere to be bloody found. Why on earth am I going through all of this rubbish getting myself dirty just to find a pen, I have better things to do with my time?! I finally give up, laughing at myself but I keep the pen top weirdly (i’m not sure even why at this point) and I just go about my day. Later, as if I subconsciously knew, I find that ruddy pen on the floor just lying there all along! I realised I never actually chucked the pen in the bin at all. It clearly wanted me to find it again, I just chose not to see it as I was desperately looking for it, but it was patiently waiting to be found once everything else had been squared away. At last, these pen parts were reunited and I am satisfied that I had gone through all of that effort, as it’s actually a really good pen! (and I am very particular about my pens).
Now you may be thinking what on earth has a pen got to do with a relationship? I wouldn’t call myself religious and I don’t particularly believe in fate, but I can’t help feeling the universe has brought Alex and I together much the same as these pen parts. I feel I relate to this pen top so much having been through quite some journey in my lifetime. I’ve been in amongst the rubbish, looking for things that weren’t even there, waiting to find someone or someone to find me. Now Alex (who is the pen in this scenario) came in my life and just stayed where he was, even though at times he was hidden he was always there in the back of my mind. These past couple of years i’ve really had to find myself again before I was even able to think about being in another relationship. I turned a blind eye to love, I painfully embraced the chaos that my life had become and I fully accepted who I was. I finally knew what I wanted and deserved, I stopped looking for anything really and just like that…there was Alex, simply waiting for me.
The moral of the story is, no matter how hopeless something seems or how difficult the task appears to be, don’t be quick to throw something away just because you think there’s no hope. You might just discover something important that was there all along. Or, if you do carelessly throw something away and you realise you probably shouldn’t have, don’t be afraid to dig deep amongst the dirt because for me ultimately, it meant that I found my missing part…
Hello September, one of my favourite months! This month I get to celebrate my birthday, my partner’s birthday and the start of my favourite season….AUTUMN! This month is going to be full of amazing opportunities to take photographs which I will be blogging about weekly and I will also be encouraging all the mums to step in the frame as part of the #mumsgetinthephotograph project.
So read on, grab your camera/camera phone, here are just 3 Creative Photographs To Capture This September, enjoy!
1.Back to School Photographs
The kids are finally back to school after quite a few months off, we all probably have mixed feelings about it but we all want to document it no doubt! Usually we prepare for the traditional, clean school photographs in front of the stairs/by the front door or in front of the school. But now I think this year it’s time to up our game and get super creative. How about taking the kids in their uniform (or whatever they are wearing for school right now) and take them out and about photographing them on location. I find candid images so much nicer sometimes and enables you to really document your kid’s personalities! Or why not try one of the creative trends at the moment perhaps getting all your kid’s toys waving to your kids goodbye as they walk out the door? How sweet! And I know it’s all about our little ones in their new uniforms but how many of us actually get in the photographs with them to document this memory? Get in your images with your little ones this year and let’s celebrate a new school year!
2. Changing of the Season
Autumn is nearly apon us and this is when the leaves start to turn, creating the most beautiful colours. This is by far my favourite season for photography, the light and colours always lend a hand for dramatic effects. Why not get your kids out and capture them chucking the leaves up in the air? Or a nice photographic shot of your family looking all cosy indoors from a scene in the window outside looking in? Or maybe get yourself dressed up in autumny colours yourself and go take a self portrait (click HERE for tips on how to take a self portrait). Whatever you decide, Autumn will provide lots of colour, atmosphere and great scenery for your images so get out and about and fill your pictures with lots of autumny goodness!
3. Golden Hour Photographs
The sun is starting to set a little earlier now and September is a great time to get out and about and take photographs in the early evening. Golden hour is the hour and half before the sun sets or when the sun rises and is the most flattering light to capture images and it can create some really magical moments. Don’t be afraid to play with lighting here as you can create some wonderful images experimenting with backlit photographs, trying to get some beautiful sunflares and silhouettes with your subjects, also by directly facing into the sun once it has nearly set will create the most amazing orange glow across your faces!
If you do capture any of the above please share with me over at With Love From A To Z and if any mum’s fancy being brave and getting in the frame, please use the hashtag #mumsgetinthephotograph on your public photographs and share over on our Instagram Mums Get In The Photograph to get featured!
After sharing my photographs recently and my feelings on how I feel taking my photograph now compared to before having children, I started the #mumsgetinthephotograph project. Since then I have been interviewed on BBC Radio Devon with Caroline Cook (listen at 2 hours 10 minutes), had a lot of interest nationally and most importantly so many mums joining the Facebook Group and Instagram sharing their wonderful photographs with them being brave getting in the frame! I have noticed so many mums saying the same thing….’I wish I had taken more photographs when I had the chance’ and ‘I wish had a different mindset about my body’. Now I don’t have a quick fix on how to make you feel better about your body or how you feel about having a photograph taken, but I do know photography and maybe I can share some of my skills to help ease you into getting in the photographs more.
Here are just a few ways to just get you in the photograph, now remember nobody actually has to see them so why be scared? The best thing I ever did was just start getting in the photographs (and not just selfies) I started to look at myself more, understand how to pose to make myself feel better and once I started sharing my honest photographs, I have received nothing but positivity and I really feel by doing so I am helping others change their mindset over having their photograph too.
Here are just 6 simple ways to take a portrait with your loved ones!
1. Self – Timer
Most of us have smart phones or cameras which have a self timer mode, usually this can be set to about 3 or 10 seconds which is enough time to place the camera somewhere steady and get in place. Go for the 10 second timer until you have got the hang of it, you’ll need more time than you think!
Pros – These can be done without asking anybody else, perfect for those who want to be a bit more discrete.
Cons – It can take a few attempts to get it right, and depending on distance you may have to run to your spot!
TOP TIP – Look through your camera settings before doing the shoot as sometimes the self timer can be hidden or can reset after shooting.
2. Ask your partner/family member/friend to take a photograph
Now this isn’t everyones first choice especially if you are not particurly comfortable in front of the camera. The action of having a viewer can sometimes create an effect that automatically makes you tense up (remember the good old days of saying ‘cheese’ for the awkward school photographs). By using a loved one can help you feel more comfortable.
Pros – The person taking the photograph will be able to get the compostion right and tailor the image to suit you.
Cons – You can’t see the photograph straight away so may revert to old photography habits tensing up etc.
TOP TIP – Get whoever is taking the photograph to make you laugh, talk about what you’re going to have for dinner or even just play a word game to put you at ease.
Tripod’s don’t have to cost much, you can get them for both cameraphones and cameras and they can just be set up where the photographer would stand. These can be used both indoors and outdoors!
Pros – These again are great for those who want to be more discrete, but people who have little more confidence in carrying a tripod around!
Cons – They can cost a bit depending on what you want and they can be quite heavy to get to your destination. Also depending if you have a lightweight one, if there are fairly strong winds you may need some weights to put at the bottom.
TOP TIP – I find this easier to take a practice shot with the rest of the subjects in the photograph first to see if the composition looks good and then I can slot into place once the timer is set.
4. Remote Trigger
Remote triggers are really useful because they allow you to photograph straight away without having to wait around, you can buy them on Amazon for your camera or even an find app from your phone.
Pros – Gives you control of when you release the shutter, and means you can take the photographs without anybody else.
Cons – Getting focus can be tricky sometimes but this can again come with practicing.
TOP TIP – Practice, practice, practice and stock up on batteries!
We all take selfies with the kids, they are still photographs of moments at the end of the day!
Pros – They are super quick and ready to hand.
Cons – This can be pretty limited, and not always get the backdrop as well as your faces in.
TOP TIP – Invest in a selfie stick to give your photographs a bit more atmosphere.
6. Hire a professional
Now again you may be thinking gosh I don’t want anybody to photograph me, but this is what professionals are meant for. It’s not all just about the editing, it’s about the photographer’s people skills too. I spend my life photographing couples and families who tell me they are a little bit uncomfortable with the camera and it’s your photographer’s job to put you at ease! Just talk to them and explain your concerns, perhaps more candid, natural photographs are your thing which a good photographer will be able to capture no problem! Search around but if you are local to me either in Devon/Cornwall/Scotland, send me a message and we’ll get you in those photographs!
Pros – This takes the pressure off, you don’t have to think and you can pick up tips for posing in future. By investing that little bit extra you’ll get amazing professional photographs.
Cons – You have to set aside a time to do this, some photographs can be quite booked up so book early in advance!
TOP TIP – Think about styling and flattering clothes for your images, if you feel good then this will come across in your images.
Now hopefully you like one of these ideas, and if you try one of the ideas above, please share your photographs on our Facebook or Instagram if you are feeling brave and use the hashtag #mumsgetinthephotograph
In Plymouth, we have the most amazing colourful garage doors in the alley outside the back garden. When we have been going on our daily walks since returning from lockdown in Scotland, I kept thinking of how to use them in a project. When I studied at Plymouth College of Art, we learned of Getty’s 2017 trend ‘Colour Surge‘ where the first thing you notice about the photograph was colour, I have always wanted to explore this concept further so knew that these doors would be perfect for something. Rainbows have also been a key symbol of lockdown too so I thought why just do one colour when I could do the whole spectrum.
Compared to my previous project of ‘Lockdown in Scotland‘, these images provided a great contrast with their urban feel and being from a performing arts background it created a great incentive for getting dressed up with my girls and creating characters that were full of narrative. We did these images over a few days and I tasked my daughter April to find everything she could of each colour; it was surprisingly easy to find as we have very colourful wardrobes. Lockdown has been incredibly monotonous at times, so finding games in everything we do has been important to keeping my daughter April happy. It was a lot of fun to do, the neighbours had a laugh at our matching outfits and both my daughters got into their character’s well (classic photographer’s children!). Once I shared this project on my social media, the reaction I have received has been both overwhelming and motivating. Being a mother of two girls at such different ages during Lockdown has been testing, and I have this creative drive that I don’t always find the time or energy to pursue. Knowing the public support my work has kick-started something in me to just put my work out there as much as possible no matter how unfinished it feels, I am a terrible perfectionist that I don’t always share things in case I look back on it once I have improved my skills. This is something I now understand won’t help me grow.
I will be creating a coffee table style book through my websit soon as there has been a high demand for one.
Just before Lockdown started, my girls and I travelled from Plymouth to Scotland where my partner lives. Long story short, we got stuck there for 3 months. So with my girls and just my camera to hand, I basically did the only thing to keep me sane throughout this time. I documented it.
I am Zephy, mother of two beautiful girls and I have been doing a personal 365 project to keep me inspired and motivated this year whilst on maternity leave, as soon as my daughter Hazel was born in October 2019 I was afraid I wouldn’t capture enough which is one of the reasons I keep my camera so close. I was once told that if you force yourself to take photographs every day then you grow as an artist and you become so much more creative than you ever thought you could be, and gosh how I have grown.
The Lockdown project was mainly inspired by my girls, but also many documentary photographers that I have come across whilst studying my degree at Plymouth College of Art.Sally Mann, Lindsay Saunders and Megan Loeks are just a few who inspire me daily all who have documented their children in the most beautiful, authentic ways and I simply just wanted to develop my own style. Compared to Plymouth’s urban surroundings, being stuck in rural Scotland was literally a dream. The light was beautiful, fields surrounded us and when I started getting more creative with the lighting and composition, it became clear I wanted to turn them all into black and white in the hopes of creating a book. There is something so beautiful about capturing real moments, and what’s even more lovely is creating an editorial series with lots of narrative. In the past I have always tried to produce strong solo images, but whilst studying I really enjoyed the theoretical side of creating editorial work and I feel reading now influences a lot of my personal projects. My daughters are 9 years apart, whilst my eldest April talks of being a tween soon (an age that fascinates me and has influenced previous projects) and with my daughter Hazel just 9 months old, despite their age difference their relationship is probably the most beautiful thing I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing.
My work is usually so full of colour, but for me this project just felt right in black and white and sort of timeless. Lockdown has been intense for so many of us creatives, for me I am used to being so busy with my girls and my work that taking the time to pause and just ‘be’ it was bound to bring out some beautifully authentic moments that I simply adored capturing.
I have created a personal book for my partner and his family but a public version of this book will be available through my website very soon. Here are a few of my favourites: