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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