Motherhood and Postpartum Acne – One Simple Act Of Self Love

motherhood, PERSONAL

‘Drink more water’

‘You wear too much make up’

‘You need to wash more’

‘There’s medication for that’

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…

A self portrait of Zephyre Rose her side profile displaying her postpartum acne

‘We have to be women we want our daughters to be.’

Brené Brown

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…

Self portrait of Zephyre Rose in white cherry blossom

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.

With Love From Zephy x

Self portrait of Zephyre Rose in her bare skin

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An Ode to Motherhood

PERSONAL

An Ode to Motherhood

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.

6 Ways To Get In The Photographs With Your Kids

TOP TIPS

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.

3. Tripod

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!

5. Selfie

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

Image by Melanie Grace

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

I can’t wait to see them all!

Zephy x