My Favourite Photographs of Summer 2022

Sharing some of my favourite images over the Summer here in Scotland now Autumn is nearly here! I lost my love for photography for a little while for various reasons, but I am pleased to say that I am back enjoying taking photographic memoirs of our little life in Arbroath. Summer has been a pretty special one here and we have done so much foraging and picking fruit I think our hands are permanently stained from it! I was just saying the other day how I love how green it is right now, some thing we can take for granted while it’s here. In Scotland it can get pretty bleak over the Winter time so I am preparing myself this autumn for lots of colour, festivity and hygge! I am an Autumn child, but let’s just appreciate how wonderful summer is just a little bit longer.

Let me know in the comments which image is your favourite

First Day of Nursery Woodland Photo Shoot

Our little Hazel started nursery for the first time last week and we decided to go out to our favourite woods armed with a bucket of apples and pears to document the milestone with a little photo shoot. I dressed her in the cutest little yellow tartan dress from M&S that I found on eBay for just £2.99, which was an absolute bargain. I also took one of my favourite childhood books with me ‘ The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame, which I spotted a copy in a charity shop not long ago for just pennies. I am such a fan of finding old vintage books and I hope that we will start reading this one together soon. For me, buying secondhand anywhere is one of the simplest changes you can do for the planet, and most of the time I find the best things in great condition for a fraction of the original price. We were also gifted the cutest little shoes from Let’s Chill, which went so well with her little yellow dress. So when it came to styling this little photo shoot, I knew it had to be something seasonal, something scottish and of course, nursery themed. I am looking forward to recreating something similar each year, but for now I am holding onto these cute little memories of us together in her favourite place, the woods.

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Zephy x

Family Foraging in Scotland – Wild Cherries

There is something so fasinating to me to be able to go wandering in your local area and find things to eat for free. The last two weeks of July here in the east of Scotland was beautiful weather, and with midsummer here comes one of my absolute favourite fruits, cherries! Now you can imagine my delight when we came across a few cherry trees just a bike ride away from our house, and with two different varieties. Red and black cherries! Hazel climbed up on daddy’s shoulders to ‘catch’ them and Ace used her new preteen height to jump and pick the ones completely out of reach (there were plenty at her level, she just liked the challenge), and I took my time admiring these beautiful trees and wondered why a lot of people don’t pick more wild things. Now it might be past season for cherries where you live, but I wanted to catch up on all the wonderful things we have done this summer and hopefully, it will encourage you to get out with your family to do some foraging for free seasonal goodies.

Being my first time eating wild cherries off a tree, I half expected these little cherries to be quite sour but they were suprisingly easy on the palette. I knew I wanted to preserve them pretty quickly too, so I made wild cherry jam for myself and the family and it’s by far better than any jam I have bought from the shop! Something incredible happens when you mix sugar with these cherries, and it draws out all those incredible flavours. I kept the jam recipe pretty simple just to see how it would turn out, and it turned out so well I went back for another batch of cherries. I also sent Alex back a third time just so we could collect a small batch as I thought they would go great in this year’s christmas cake, and by this point at lot of them had been taken by birds/other foragers etc but not the ones at the top though there must have been thousands!

We we were lucky with these trees being quite low down, but we realised that the branches can be a little out of reach for smaller ones. The tree can also be quite delicate too, so we were as careful as possible gently holding branches down to gather fruit. There’s a word in Swedish I learnt recently called ‘lagom’, which means not too much and not too little and we apply this rule when foraging. Leave plenty for other foragers, but mainly for the wildlife and take just enough for yourself. Needless to say, we were all left with smiles, memories to cherish and cherry stained fingers.

If you want to discover more about seasonal foraging with your family, check out my other blog posts and most recently 5 things to Forage with Family in Late Summer.

Zephy x

Five Things to Forage with Family in Late Summer

It’s late summer here in Scotland, and in my opinion one of my favourite times of the year to really get stuck into foraging with the family. Some of our foraging favourites we have intentionally hunted for this year, but others we have accidentally stumbled upon on one of wanders or bike rides. To me, foraging is with all the family is a win for everybody, it gets everybody out of the house, away from technology and into nature. We are a competitive family too, so we love to find the challenge and see who can find the most or the biggest thing! I have been foraging since I was a little girl, mainly for brambles but it is such a nostalgic thing for me that I have been keen to make it part of our families routine. We all go out to collect seasonal goods for free, and then we come home and make tasty dishes with them. What could be better? So here you go, I have listed Five Things to Forage with Family in Late Summer. All the fruits listed below should be local to you, but be quick as the weather will be turning shortly to Autumn!

  • Blaeberries – Also known as bilberries and are a European version of the blueberry. Small and blue/purple in colour. They are really sweet to eat and are great in jams, scones and pies! You will find them in wooded areas with lots of tree cover. Be warned though, if you are picking them in Scotland there is a high chance tics will be around, so make sure you have a tic card handy! Usually there is an abundance of these but remember to only pick just enough for yourself as they are important to wildlife. If you are hand picking it could take a little while, so patience is key!
  • Wild Cherries – These very similar to the cherries we get in the shops but a lot smaller and a lot bit sour eaten raw. Once you put it with sugar however, it really brings out those beautiful cherry flavours and goes amazing in jam better than any shop bought one! You might find these trees in your local park or at the edge of woodlands. These trees are not to be confused with cherry blossoms, they are in fact two completely different trees one produced for it’s beautiful blossoms and the other for fruit. The fruit of the cherry tree is unmistakeble at it’s peak, and can range from yellow-red right to almost black in colour (my favourite!). These cherries can be up quite high so take a tall forager or a little step ladder to grab these little beauties.
  • Wild Blackberries – You can always recognise a blackberry as they are unlike any other fruit apart from the raspberry and you can find them in most wooded areas and brambles at the side of the roads and paths. They are black/dark purple and lots of little balls called druplets. They peak in late summer and go into autumn time and they make amazing jam, cordials, galettes and garnishes on desserts. They are bit sour but that is their charm I think, add them with other brambles like raspberries and they are really yummy. They are also a bit prickly, so take gloves for extra protection!
  • Wild Raspberries – You may find raspberries pretty close to blackberries or in separated patches, and they can also be quite small. The are pink/light red in colour and covered in little drupelets. They can be a little squishy when picked so be careful when removing from the plant. They are also a little bit prickly so be careful! Raspberries are very sweet and have an amazing flavour and are great in desserts and smoothies.
  • Rosehips – Rosehips can be found in hedgerows and woodland areas and there are a dew different varieties. They make great syrups and jellies and are best picked after the first frost. This can be mimicked however by picking them when they are ripe and shoving them in the freezer, it makes them taste better! They are known for being used as itching powder back in the day so perhaps use gloves when picking and learn how to prep them correctly.

If you are unsure about foraging in your area always get advice from an expert forager and abide by local foraging laws.

Scotland Foraging

UK Foraging

With love, Zephy x

The Voice Competition 2021 – 3rd Place Winner and Finalist

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

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!

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Pumpkins, Pumpkins and More Pumpkins

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

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!

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