The Voice Competition 2021 – 3rd Place Winner and Finalist

awards, PHOTOGRAPHY

The Voice is an annual competition held by Click & Company and brings together a collection of the best work from photographers worldwide in an online gallery. The winners get published in Click Magazine and a free application into Click Pro Photographers, a group of photographers amplifying the voices of artists across the world. Yesterday I found out I had placed 3rd in the Mobile Category and 6 other Finalist images in other categories, being my first year I am overwhelmed and overjoyed. Back in August, I submitted around 70 of my best images across 16 different categories: Colour Theory, Diptych, Envrinomental Portraiture, Eye Contact, Faceless, Family Connection, Golden Hour, Minimalism, Mobile, Movement, Portraiture, Self Portrait, Shadow and Light, The Year 2020 and Young Photographers. This year there were over 45,000 images submitted, 8 rounds of culling by the judges and only 1% of images were selected for the finals. To place 3rd in such an amazing photography competition is one of the biggest highlights of my photographic career.

My own favourite submissions to The Voice Competition

Every year sees an outstanding amount of entries and talent amongst big names such as Megan Loeks and Lindsay Saunders, and I feel so honoured to have my images up there with such amazing artists after a great couple of years developing my photography. Most of the images I submitted have been taken in 2021 on my journey of experimentation with colour, self acceptance and finding my own authentic voice. Having ADHD means I like to try a lot of different things which at sometimes can be frustrating on the quest as photogaphers to find consistency, but I realise now my variety in imagery is one of the reasons I had so many images to submit in the first place. If I had not experimented so much I would probably not have created such a diverse portfolio which gained me 7 big reasons to celebrate. For this now, I am so grateful.

Here are all my images that made it to The Voice finals!

Mobile Category3rd Place

I was so overwhelmed to find out this image placed 3rd in the Mobile category, I have taken a lot of images on my iPhone this year and never would have dreamed whilst taking them that one would go on to win a competition. This image was taken as part of my Seven Days of Self series where I took a photograph of myself each single day for seven days but restricted myself to just using my iPhone. I took my phone with me everywhere and waited for a moment or great light to appear. This was taken after I had been in the shower and I noticed the water droplets on the mirror with the light shining beautifully on me, I knew that this would create great texture and contrast so I started snapping away.

Faceless Category – Finalist

This image was the start of one of my colour projects that I am quite well known for and was actually messaged a lot from people who recognised my work straight away in the competition. I never actually shared the full collection of this series, but it was a series of my eldest going through her current stage in childhood. Although still very much a child, she began showing signs of wanting to be that little bit older as her body changes and she becomes more aware of herself. It was important for me to document her in a way that she wanted to be portrayed in both life and in the photographs. I don’t often get to photograph her at the moment so I love that I managed to get creative with her on projects like this one.

Family Connection Category – Finalist

These images were some of my favourite taken at the end of 2020 and part 2 of my Lockdown Series. I was getting creative with reflections and textures and spent a lot of my time shooting through window and glass surfaces. This was definitely a turning point in my photography as I felt the restrictions of lockdown heavily and was forced to create with what I had right in front of me. Living on my own at the time with my two girls and my partner living at the oppostive end of the UK, meant that moments were fleeting and I knew I needed to capture them.

Portraiture Category – Finalist

This image was a total surprise to be selected as a finalist and I sort of put it in on a whim, it was inspired by an image by Magdalena Piotrowska in one of our creative ‘Inspired By You’ loops on Instagram. This image was just totally fun and random and this is when my eldest likes to get involved, when there is facepaint or a chance to be silly. Never underestimate the potential of a stripey bedsheet!

Self Category – Finalist

For me, this was one of the images I was hoping would go far in the competition if any because it has such an important message that I am very passionate about. I did a whole series of images this past year highlighting my postpartum acne and this pressure women face on retouching their skin, as well as being bombarded with ‘perfect beauty ideals’ in the photography industry. This was a follow on image from my With Love Flat Lay series and although quite different from my other work, I felt it was necessary to create.

The Year 2020 – Finalist

This image is another one of my colour series this year, My Colour Masks Project. This image was another way of processing all that we have gone through over the Global Pandemic. So many of us have spent less time outdoors and nearly 2 years of wearing masks, I created these flower masks in a monochromatic series to document the times but in a colourful way. These colour projects have been some of my favourite work over the year and have helped me further develop my work with colour theory and styling.

If you are looking at entering The Voice in 2022, I recommending joining the Click Community and take a look at The Voice 2021 Virtual Gallery and previous competitions here.

5 Photography Techniques For Autumn

PHOTOGRAPHY, TOP TIPS

Autumn is my favourite season to photograph, and here in Scotland the colours are still looking wonderful as most of leaves are starting to fall off the trees. Autumn can be an exciting prospect for some with the cooler days and colours, but some may find it a bit daunting with the days getting shorter and less light to play with. For me, Autumn time is my favourite season to play more with my photography and challenge myself further, I actually believe I create some of my best work around this time. The colours and light is amazing and the weather is still good enough to spend plenty of time outside. It’s also that time to think about how to get more creative indoors. Before winter is here and the trees are bare, I encourage you to get out and find autumn wherever you can whether its a whole field of bracken or a little tree outside your door. Here I have outlined some ways of making the most of your autumn photography, whether you have a DSLR or smart phone there are plenty of opportunities to create great autumnal images!

1. Play with colours

Autumn is full of oranges, yellows, browns and reds and it’s not hard to find them if you go for a little walk. Whether you live in a city or the countryside, there will be at least one beautiful colour to play with. When I lived in the city of Plymouth, we had this amazing ginkgo tree in our local park and it goes this amazing yellow colour in autumn, so what did we do? We played in the leaves! If your local trees don’t have many leaves, why not go on a leaf collecting mission and bring them home with you? Now is the time to play around with monochromatic and complimentary colour palettes.

2. Make The Most Of Textures

Autumn treasures can provide a lot of texture and with the right light, they can create some really visually pleasing images on their own or with a human element. I also love a window shot when autumn begins as it’s great for creating depth and layers especially on a rainy day, just get your subjects in the window and get your coat on to shoot those beautiful reflections.

3. Use Autumn Foods

I love autumn food, pumpkins, nuts, foraged mushrooms they are all so photogenic. For anyone who follows my work on Instagram will know how much I love baking and how creative I have been getting over the past year. I have been doing a billion things with pumpkins recently which you can find a blog post dedicated to it here. Use these foods to inspire you, use art to inspire your images to look like a classic painting or simply get creative with a flat lay.

4. Get Creative With Layers

Layering is one of my go to compositional techniques as you can make images look cinematic and almost feel like you’re in the photograph with them. You can do this by chucking leaves as you shoot or position your camera so you have static foliage in the foreground, this adds depth and interest to your photograph. I promise this will frame your images so much nicer too and help lead the viewers eye right where you want the focus to be.

5. Experiment With Lighting

The light gets more dramatic in the autumn time and the days get shorter meaning it gets darker quicker, now this shouldn’t be a reason to stop you especially if you don’t use any flash equipment. Remember ISO is your friend, and not every image is meant to be technically correct, it is the moment that counts. Keep that camera close to hand to capture those beautiful sunrises/sunsets, make the most of window light and dark spaces and not forgetting sparklers and twinkly lights in the dark!

So now you have a few things to go look for, go grab your camera and capture as much as you can before the season is out. Autumn is the best and I will be holding onto it just a little while longer before winter is here!

Please come follow our journey on Instagram.

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Pumpkins, Pumpkins and More Pumpkins

FOOD, PHOTOGRAPHY

Pumpkin season is my favourite. I have been eagerly waiting pumpkin arrivals as I had so many recipe plans this autumn including pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and of course those yummy pumpkin seeds. Pumpkins are everywhere right now and as the most common autumn squashes they have a lot of uses beyond carving. We all love to create beautiful lanterns with them every year but did you know that you can make both sweet and savoury dishes with them? I was a little skeptical at first, growing up we just carved the pumpkin with it’s unappetising smell and tossed them out when they started to get mouldy. Don’t be fooled however, in food it comes alive and tastes amazing with just a little bit of spice. As well as being incredibly tasty, it’s also full of Vitamin C and Vitamin E so really great for your skin! So the girls and I have been busy making all sorts of recipes with our big and mini pumpkins that I seemed to have collected over the past month. At one point it felt like every time I went somewhere, I got another one! I just love pumpkins and taking photographs with them, and now it’s all about what else can I bake with them. Pumpkins are really versatile and full of goodness so please recycle them for food if you can, guaranteed there will be something you like!

So, where to begin? Depending on what type of pumpkin you have, will determine what dishes are best. Little pumpkins are great for baking and using as little bowls, small pumpkins are perfect for making puree and larger pumpkins are great for cutting up into slices and roasting. All of them are great for sweet and savoury dishes and go well with spices like cinnamon or cumin depending on your preference. So are you are a sweet or savoury type of person? You might just be suprised if you experiment with this delicious squash. Luckily I like both so of course I have tried a variety of dishes although my kids defintely prefer the sweeter ones! Now cooking with pumpkins is relatively easy but recipes I have made in the past have led to soggy food so make sure you prep your pumpkins properly to avoid this happening. I always make puree over using raw pumpkin in my dishes as I find this helps reduce the water. So here are some yummy recipe links that I have tried and tested including some tips that have helped me make the most of these awesome pumpkins!

Cutting A Pumpkin

Cutting pumpkins doesn’t need a lot of skill but it’s good to know techniques to make things easier and to look a little nicer for your baking. Cutting a small or large pumpkin to roast is actually quite satisfying, when you know how to do it properly you will never look back again. Using a sharp knife cut one line from the stalk all the way around back to the stalk again (don’t try cut the stalk it’s so tough, and can be prickly!). Once cut, turn the pumpkin upside down and literally rip it apart and it will make the most satisying crack revealing all it’s seeds. Little pumpkins are a little trickier to cut but can be baked without cutting first if you find it too tricky.

Roasted Pumpkin

Roasted pumpkin is probably the simplest way of all to cook and eat it, it is also a great way of making puree or just cutting up and having as a side dish. When you scoop out all the seeds, makes sure to keep them as you will want to use them for another recipe. Also when you bake, make sure your oven is hot enough as pumpkins produce a lot of water and you could end up with a soggy tray. You can find out how to roast a pumpkin here.

Pumpkin Puree

Now the best way to make most pumpkin dishes is by using prepped pumpkin as the base, also known as pumpkin puree. We don’t really get canned pumpkin puree in the shops here in the UK, so it’s best to make your own which you can simply do by roasting any pumpkin and adding some spices. The smaller pumpkins are better for roasting usually about 1kg, they are a bit sweeter and fit easier in the oven or you can roast smaller ones individually. If you only have bigger pumpkins, it’s best to chop up first before roasting. Once you have roasted your pumpkin you can literally scoop out all of the flesh and leave the skin remaining, sometimes you can peel the skin right off too. Put all the scooped pumpkin into a blender once cooled slightly, combine until smooth and then you can refridgerate or freeze to use when you need it for a recipe.

Mini Pumpkin Bowls

Mini pumpkins are just as yummy as big pumpkins and apart from looking ridiculously adorable, they are fun to use too as vessels for your food. Chop them up and roast them alongside other veg or scoop out the insides and stuff them or fill them with soup. Either bake as they are or cut the lids off, scoop out the seeds (save for later!) and bake with the lids on. Different coloured pumpkins will roast quicker than others I find, use a knife to see if they are cooked and soft. Find a recipe to bake your mini pumpkins here.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soup is so delicious and if you batch cook a load of puree, you can whip up a pumpkin soup really easily. I made a really nice spicy pumpkin soup to put in my mini pumpkins after I baked them, although I went a bit overboard with chilli which I don’t recommend unless you like a lot of spice! Make sure you fill your soup in your pumpkin bowl when it’s still warm and serve with some cream and some fresh parsley. Try this spiced pumpkin recipe here.

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin bread is great with a bit of afternoon tea now the weather is turning, did you know it’s actually a cake? The first time I went to make pumpkin bread I thought it was more of a savoury bread but it’s traditionally really sweet and baked similar to banana bread. Once baked, you can then drizzle cinnamon icing sugar and some sugared pumpkin seeds on the top for that little bit extra. Find this yummy pumpkin bread recipe here.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie is probably the most well known dish to make with pumpkins and probably the most delicious in my opinion. Pumpkin pie isn’t very common in the UK and it tastes surprisingly different to what you might think despite having so much pumpkin in it. It’s basically custard tart with a bit of spice (a lot in my case!). This is such a tasty treat served warm with a bit of ice cream or squirty cream. Make sure you learn how to blind bake a crust and not to take shortcuts, you will regret it when your pie fails like my first blind bake. Play around with different designs including braiding to make your pie that little bit fancier. Try this Pumpkin Pie recipe here.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are the most delicious snack and they tend to go to waste after carving, so don’t chuck them away before trying them toasted. I love using the seeds to snack on or chucking them in a salad but you can literally put them on anything. You can make them sweet with cinnamon and sugar or savoury with a bit of cajun spice or simply salt and pepper. I recommend you dry out your seeds for a good 12-24 hours to make sure they aren’t still soggy when you toast them. Find our how to toast your pumpkin seeds here.

Go Get Those Pumpkins

I have never done so much with pumpkins, and I thought the family would be tired of it by now but that’s just how great pumpkins are. They taste completely different in every dish. The pumpkin pie was definitely a hit in this house and has now been requested that I make it every year! Other pumpkin recipes we are going to try before the season is out, will be using our bigger pumpkins to make a cheesy fondue and making a lovely campfire pumpkin stew for Halloween. Now go get your pumpkins, save them from being binned, chop them up and create some awesome tasty dishes for all the family.

Have a Happy Halloween everyone!

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A New Direction

Business, family

Hey there! If this is your first time to my blog then welcome. We are a little family of four based in Arbroath Scotland and we spend a lot of our time in the outdoors. My name is Zephy, my partner’s name is Alex and we have two children Ace and Hazel who are the funniest creatures I have ever seen. We love to forage, bake, create and travel around, mostly indulging ourselves in a more simple life in a digital age because it’s healing for us all.

I am a lifestyle photographer and blogger with ADHD, and I have spent a good decade figuring out what it is I am meant to be doing with my life and business other than motherhood. As luck would have it, I found photography 5 years ago and it was finally a way of combining all the things I love into one place. I have photographed portraits and weddings for most of my photographic career, but now I am diving a bit deeper into what is going to be sustainable for my family and I. I have always been incredibly creative with a high motivation to create anything and everything, but it actually stopped me making progress at times. Growing up, I was often made to feel bad by others for being ‘gifted’, mixed with perfectionism and anxiety, I actually suppressed a lot of my creative skills in fear of being called a show off. Filled with all this potential and not feeling like I was ever good enough, I have been on a real journey of discovery since having my first daughter Ace 11 years ago. Since then, I have grown in creativity, met my soulmate Alex and had our daughter Hazel. Combined with my recent diagnosis of ADHD, I now feel I can find peace with and forgive myself a lot, letting go of those voices that held me back for such a long time. It’s taken me nearly 10 years to accept that it’s ok to be inspired by lots of different things, and to carve out a job that is suited around me, my ADHD and my family life.

I have made the bold decision to combine both my photography business and my personal work as I embark on a new journey of lifestyle photography, mentoring, teaching and blogging which I couldn’t be more nervous but excited to do. This blog is now a combination of my photography blog Zephyre Rose and With Love from A to Z blog, one I started with my daughter Ace when I was a single parent but will be documenting our adventures as we travel around Scotland. Having ADHD it’s so easy to have a billion different projects going on which previously I felt a lot of shame, but now I feel only joy that I have so much to share. I hope all of my current followers enjoy this new direction that my business is headed and that you all will take something from this little blog.

Come follow our journey here and on Instagram and I hope you feel inspired to make your lives a little more simple!

Happy Pride Month

family, LGBTQ, motherhood, PERSONAL, Self Portraits

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 🏳️‍🌈


Happy Pride Month 🌈

With Love Zephy 🌈

7 Images Using The Colour Spectrum

Creative projects

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!

Motherhood and Postpartum Acne – One Simple Act Of Self Love

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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One Photo Every Hour

Creative projects, Lockdown

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 from Zephy x