Slow the heck down

Sometimes we need to slow the heck down. Not just in our work, but our home lives, our social life, when we talk to others, when we do the food shop, when we're getting ready for the school run, when we're eating, thinking, sleeping... 

For me, slowing down when I am behind the lens is also important. Sometimes the pressure of the shoot makes me race, but when I've done that, I always wish I had taken more time. 

Going slower means better photos. I love to chat while I'm taking photos, but really, my favourite, and best thing to do, is to be quiet in my thoughts and my movements. Then I can find perspectives I may not have otherwise found. I see more expressions, frames, and textures. 

So when you're next rushing your children out the door for school, gulping your lunch down, hurrying conversation with someone because you don't have time, racing to walk the dog... Instead, take a breath and realise that rushing and stressing doesn't do anything to help anyone. Let alone you. And that slowing down is a better, more peaceful way to live. 

 This photo was taken while I was waiting to cheer on my husband in his Man vs Mountain race. I was captivated by the parting of the mountains, surrounded in clouds, and supported by water. Such beauty.

This photo was taken while I was waiting to cheer on my husband in his Man vs Mountain race. I was captivated by the parting of the mountains, surrounded in clouds, and supported by water. Such beauty.


Ethical Hour

I went into my first Zero Waste Shopping store the other day, to buy a bar of shampoo - to not only cut out the plastic I use, but also reduce chemicals. I've been using natural skin care for yonks, but have recently stepped up my effort in lessening my carbon footprint, single use plastics, thoughtless purchases, and other things that cause a negative impact on the world - sometimes even unknowingly.

A quick click of the mouse to buy something from Amazon (click here to find out about their black marks), or a sweep down the supermarket aisle to take home a trolley full of throw-away plastic packaging. Or buying eggs that say Free Range, but actually that means that the chicken has to happen upon the tiny tunnel at the far end of the barn, that leads to outdoors... 

So when Sian Conway of Ethical Hour contacted me to do a shoot with her, I was really bloomin' thrilled! Ethical Hour is super, lovely business - it helps people to live and work more ethically every day. (Check out the portfolio of clients here). Living more ethically is such a hot topic at the moment - it has been for a while, but it seems to be really ploughing forward and it's making me feel hopeful. 

Sian wanted a collection of natural, candid photos of herself, to use on her website and for branding at events she attends. Her brief was foliage, organic and natural... so we headed out to Ashton Court to chat about her business, Hippo's laying eggs, and my witty comments to put people at ease (sweaty bananas, silly sausages, and other very dorky things that I blurt out - always gets a laugh though!). 

 

 

How I use light in photography composition

I love playing with light in my photo composition. It can change the mood of an image in an instant. And I love that. If I could take these kinds of photos all day long, I would! But of course, broad daylight, mid day sun and poorly lit conditions don't always allow me to do it this way, so I have to get creative!

If I am doing a photography session in someone's home, one of the first things I do is walk around the house looking for good lighting. And by good, I don't always mean bright. Sometimes, a tiny slither of light escaping through curtains that are just a little bit open, will create a beautiful halo of light - like in the first image of my son, and also the fourth image of a bride getting her makeup done - where you can just see legs! 

A portrait taken with the subject facing the window can give the most soft and natural lighting - like the last image of the bride looking out pensively. And it helps because the rest of the room is dark, with the only source of light coming from the window. 

The image of Denise with her beautiful bump was backlit by the window instead. And this cast interesting but soft shadows over her skin. 

In broad sun light, like mid day sun, I find it best - where possible - to find some sort of shade. Sometimes it is unavoidable, but the shade will help to create a much kinder light. The image of the dad holding his daughter was taken in Australia on a sunny day, at about 3pm. Dad and daughter were standing under the verandah, but towards the front of it, so they were just out of the direct light. 

Another way to add a different feel to a photo is to use the sun to create a feeling - like the photo of my daughter standing in the veggie patch. I positioned the sun partly obscured by her head, which added to the summer time feel and produced a lovely, gentle haze. 

Children Wild and Free - my new sessions exclusively for children. 

When I ran my Women Wild and Free sessions last summer, I was so inspired by all the strong mothers I photographed - all honest, positive, natural role models for their sons and daughters. 

So it felt right to create sessions for our wonderful children, too. To capture a child’s inner strength and beauty. To photograph them doing what they love. Because, that’s what’s important - that our insides - our hearts - are happy and confident and strong. 

And we need to start this now with our children. We need to enable them to see that being different is OK. That they don’t have to conform to stereotypes. It is not about a girl’s prettiness. Or a boy’s bravado. It is about being true to yourself and your spirit. That way, we can make our own beauty. And it will sparkle and speak proudly to the world. 

Whether it’s your child’s unique personality or their love for a hobby - like riding, cycling, painting, dancing, making, swimming, baking, climbing - anything that makes them shine and feel happy and free. That is what I want to document.

These sessions are charged at my normal family photography prices - but the first five people to book a session will get a special thank you discount! 

Please email me for more details or to book your session. I can’t wait to hear from you and get started with Children Wild and Free.

Jemima. X

Family Photographer Somerset UK

Kilts, children, laughter, hearts.

Sophie is one of my dearest, oldest friends. She was my next door neighbour growing up, and I have the fondest memories of our adventures together. I will always remember the time I was hiding in the top bunk bed, and Sophie and my sister came into the bedroom and revealed that Father Christmas was in fact my parents! Served me right for being sneaky, I suppose. 

Anyway, fast forward over 20 years, and we found each other again! Our children play wonderfully together, and we discovered that we still have such a lovely, natural connection. So when she asked me to photograph her wedding ceremony in Bristol, I thought, of course. This is how it should be, all these years later. 

So here are the photos, in all their glory. Sophie and her charming Scott, Hamish, along with their beautiful daughter, Isla. And kilts, children, laughter, and the warmest of hearts. 

Waiting for Spring

I had the loveliest day last week with my children. It felt like Spring had finally arrived, after what has been a rather long and dreary winter.

We went to Tyntesfield and took our time wandering and exploring. We ate ice cream. We had a picnic. We walked around the gardens, and visited the greenhouses, which were alive with colour, summery scent and beautiful bumble bees! We relished in the sunshine all day. 

And then over the weekend it snowed again. And it was not welcome! Yet it still sits firmly in my garden, keeping Spring at bay. 

And so, we are waiting for Spring once more. 

You Are My Star

It is OK to cry and spread your arms wide
To weep at my side, these are not things to hide.
It is OK to say how much you love me
To ask me to hold you and squeeze you tightly.
It is OK to paint and to play with soft toys
To sing and to dance, to be not like other boys.
It's OK to tell me how you're feeling,
I will never tell you that you are a weakling,
I'll never say, man up and be different,
I just want you to be you, whoever you are.
And I want you to know that you are my star. 
I just want you to know that you are my star. 

Keep. On. Going.

Last year, I became so focussed on where I wanted to be, comparing myself to the photographers who have been doing it for far longer than I have, who get to travel the world and take these amazing photos of impossibly wondrous scenery.  Who get paid to do every single job. Who do nothing else but immerse themselves in a world of cameras and photographs and art. 

Time for a reality check! I am a mother - a full time mother of two children under five! IT IS NOT EASY. I have suffered from chronic sleep deprivation, given 150 billion percent to being the best mum I can be, which in turn has meant that I have also spent time worrying and berating myself over things; do the children watch too much TV, do they eat well enough, am I attentive enough, the list goes on. 

Then we moved house. No wait, first we moved countries. With a four month old baby. Then we moved from a flat we were renting to a house we bought. Then when my son was 14 months, I fell pregnant again. And was really sick. Then having two children was a complete shock and such a huge challenge and a strain on my mental health. And then we moved house again. 

And amongst all of that, I have consistently given myself a hard time for not having a booming photography business. What was I thinking? 

So, now that we are settled, and staying put. And finally, I have a bit more time (and sleep), I can start to absorb this wonderful and chaotic journey I have been on, both as a mother, and an aspiring photographer. 

I am starting this year gently, with photographs of the people I know and love. And then, there are a few things planned for later on, such as a wedding ceremony of a close friend, an exciting elopement story, a maternity shoot, and a few other projects. 

And I shall just go with the flow. Enjoy the adventure and the learning. Study faces and lighting, practice different environments and situations. Critique my work honestly but kindly. And just Keep. On. Going. 

Yin and Yang

I have retreated this winter. I have just felt like hibernating; seeing less of people, doing less, and just feeling quiet and reflective. 

The only time I really wanted to pick up my camera was when I did a walk on my own through the Shapwick Reserve in Somerset, where my photos reflected the sombre and bleak mood of my mind these last few months. I just didn't feel like being creative. I didn't play my guitar, I didn't sing. I didn't write, and I didn't photograph. 

I was reading about the natural yin and yang of the seasons. During the warmer months, we have more energy and spark. We smile, we socialise, and we are active. We can get up earlier, and go to bed later.

Then, when winter falls, we start to retreat. Our energy levels need preserving, and it is a time to nurture ourselves with hearty food, warmth, and the comfort of our home. We can read, watch films, take long baths, and just generally lead a quieter life. 

Only now am I starting to resurface. It helps that we have moved house and are now much more settled. There is still a scatter of boxes and unattended paperwork, but otherwise, we are all happy and content with our new surroundings. 

And the creative fire inside me is burning once more. So, hurrah!! I have been photographing my children and cat, playing my guitar, devising plans for exciting paths ahead, and generally feeling lighter and brighter. Oh, and I can't wait for those warmer months! Please be a sunny summer, South West of England. 

 

 

Real life and a witches hat

This is my favourite type of photography. Natural, honest and candid. Where I just hang out with someone (my daughter, in this instance), and I take photos of the person or people, in their own environment. I don't take things out of the frame, I leave everything as it is. It is not contrived, instead it is completely imperfect, as it should be. 

Photos without a story are just that. They're photos, art, but there's no context. A model posing for the camera is positioned, and although the model has her or his own story, you don't know it. Sometimes, you can see it through their eyes, or feel it through the portrayal of the portrait. But often, it is nothing more than just a photo. And it serves its purpose. 

But if I am photographing in a home, why should I remove things from the frame? Why should I photoshop the radiator, or the toys in the background? Why should I lighten someone's eyes, or smooth their skin? Just as a model may be made to look thinner in a magazine. Or made to have whiter teeth, or larger breasts. 

Because that is not real life. And I want real life. I see it. And I love to photograph it the way it is. It shouldn't be hidden. It should be embraced. It should be imperfect. Because that is life. And it is beautiful. (Just like my daughter). 

 

 

 

Swinging through Autumn

What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday, and my Dad's 64th birthday, swinging through the Autumn trees. I really do relish these family moments - moments that matter, to me, more than anything else in my life.

I wanted to be a singer. I wanted to be famous. And we can make excuses for everything, but when I say that I would prefer this life, a life with my wonderful, loving family, over another life I could have had, I mean it.

I can dream of that other life, about touring on the road, living in the studio, spending my days and nights writing music. But what would I have to forfeit to have that life? 

When I imagine the end of my days. I imagine feeling content because I made time to be a mother and a wife and a daughter and a sister, an auntie and a cousin and a granddaughter and grandmother. If I didn't have those things, I would regret it more than anything. I would wish I had chosen a family over a career in the music industry. How could it possibly compare? 

I do ask myself if I could have had both? And maybe I could have. But not in the way that I have it now. There would have been days and weeks and months I would have missed of my children growing up. And that is not the mother I wanted to be. No. Being a mother - the mother I am, is something I could never, ever regret. 

Monday Musings

It is my daughters nap time. Cup of tea. Biscuit. And time to catch up on stuff in peace and quiet. BLISS. 

So, the first news is that we are moving! We decided to bite the bullet and move to the countryside. We wanted to do it now, (slightly last minute) so that we can apply for schools for our son, who will start next September. 

The village we are moving to is about 40 minutes commute from Bristol. It has a pub, a bakery, dentist, doctors, charity shop, wine shop, and a little library, too! And, we will be closer to my family. 

We may well be in by Christmas, which is, unbelievably, only six weeks away! So, we are making the most of the lovely woods behind our house, with its falling orange and yellow leaves. We will miss these woods a lot, and have so enjoyed walking in them almost every day for three years. But, it really is time to escape the city. It just feels right for our family. 

With all the stress and chaos of the move preparation, I've lost my mojo a little bit. And I haven't picked up my guitar since our last gig in September. I've been going to bed as early as 8pm! But I have managed to finish my book (This Must Be The Place, by Maggie O'Farrel - a gripping read). And I WILL get back to my guitar and our plans to record an EP. 

Photography wise, I have my first wedding booked for next May. So that's really encouraging! I am also investing in a new camera - I borrowed my friends Canon 5d iii and fell in love with it. My 60d just doesn't cut the mustard any more. So, I'm really excited about getting that. 

I'll leave you with a few photos from my adventure in the woods with the children last week... using trusty Canon 60d. 

Women Wild and Free - Juno Feature

Are you familiar with the lovely family mag, Juno? Well, my project for Women Wild and Free has a feature in it! It was a surreal feeling seeing my work in print! It's an inspiring subject with exceptionally inspiring women at the forefront. 

I wanted to quote a little bit of the Juno feature, and include some photos of the wonderful women who booked a Women Wild and Free session with me. You'll have to grab a copy of Juno to enjoy the whole article though, soz! 

I'm looking forward to the next chapter of Women Wild and Free - I have a few ideas floating around up there, and will be launching the second instalment in Spring 2018. 

"Jemima Rose Brash uses photography to explore the interests and hobbies that mothers have made time for in amongst the demands of motherhood."

"Creating a loving family has been my life’s desire. I’m a home girl through and through. And I feel happiest and most like me when I am surrounded by family. When I started a family of my own, it became my passion to document it through photography, and not only my family, but other families, too. I wanted to show the moments that matter, the moments that we should look back on with fondness and awe.

My children have brought me so much joy and light. But my role as mum has, at times, also brought darkness and despair, when the long, lonely days of looking after small children and keeping home has seeped into my bones and disappeared my former self. Where was the Jemima who wrote, sang and performed music? The Jemima who kept fit and practiced yoga. The Jemima who loved to read and discover films. The Jemima who looked like Jemima - a lover of vibrant dresses and shoes. In the throes of motherhood, I had lost sight of her. I was determined to reintroduce her. And so I began writing and performing music again, and I knuckled down and launched my family photography business.

And therein Women Wild and Free was born - photography sessions to embrace, empower and focus on women in all their splendour. My first category this project was to focus on mothers. It was still so raw to me, and I wanted to utilise my understanding and passion for motherhood through my photography. These sessions connected with mothers who had found what I had missed and longed for - an interest or hobby that gave them space and freedom. Something that allowed them to escape the demands of motherhood, and gave them a sense of individual identity and purpose."

Photographs feature (in order):
Eleanor: Mother + Silversmith
Manon: Mother + Yoga Teacher
Lauren: Mother + Makeup Artist
Susanna: Mother + Organic Veg Entrepreneur and Singer
Monica and Lorraine: Mother and Daughter + open water swimmers

Women Wild and Free name, concept and images (c) Fur and Gold Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let the Forest Grow

I always wanted to be a singer or an actress. I did Performing Arts in College, and Commercial Music at University. I started songwriting at 14. I played in bands. I acted in plays. And I had boyfriends. I always wanted to be a wife. And then later, a mother. Oh, the desire to be a mother. It hit me hard when I met my husband. And it took over everything else.

All my existent desires were put out, like a forest on fire. Every tree alight was extinguished. But an aftermath of burnt earth lingered. And one day, what life remained would find a way to grow and prosper, and once more stand tall and bright with life and dreams. 

And that is where I find myself. Sitting in a cosy corner of a city cafe, with desire bubbling away in my blood. Stubborn and firm in my bones. Wanting to find a way out into the world. To do something special. To make a mark. But there's one thing that imprisons it in my body. 

FEAR.

I am afraid. Afraid to do what my heart yearns for. To hike in the hills alone, to swim in the deep sea, to run in the dark, to make a record, to write a book, to cut my hair, to be a photographer. I am afraid that I cannot do it. I am afraid that I won't be good enough. I am afraid that I'll have to sacrifice my life as a wife and a mother.  Because I cannot do that. I need to be the best mother. And I want to be. I am. I know that motherhood is actually something that I am not afraid of. 

But it's time I took a leap of faith. It's time I start to extinguish the fear. Every time I say no to fear, I let myself grow. I let life grow. I let the forest grow. 

Below image from Women Wild and Free, (c) Fur and Gold Photography. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being you on your wedding day

I saw a beautiful image of a bride on Instagram this morning. She had vibrant red hair and a delicate, vintage dress. And I felt like she had stayed true to herself, and was being who she wanted to be.

It reminded me about how important it is to be yourself when you get married, because if your wedding could talk, it should say everything about you and your partner that it could possibly say. 

I think it's easy to get carried away with Pinterest boards and magazine inpiration, that sometimes you forget about the real reason of your wedding. And you might end up getting a dress that isn't really you, or spending money on favours and decorations that you never really needed or even wanted. 

When I was planning my own wedding, I'd seen so many photos of weddings with amazing decorations and details. And I thought I wanted all that. But the nearer I came to my wedding, the more I realised that I didn't want those things at all, because they weren't a symbol of my husband and I, and in the end, it isn't those things that really matter.  

As a photographer, I want to spend the day taking photos of everyone's faces and expressions. Touches of hands. Hugging of arms and waists. Kisses of lips and cheeks. 

And when I take the bride and groom away for their intimate photos, I want them to soak up the hugeness of what has happened. I just want them to take a moment to enjoy each other. And I want it to be like I am not even there. So that when you see those moments in the photographs, you feel like they are genuine and capture the emotions you were feeling there in that time and that place.  

 This is a photo of my brother and sister in-law - taken in 2013! 

This is a photo of my brother and sister in-law - taken in 2013! 

Social Media and Me.

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with social media. On one hand, I'm pretty sure I need it for my business, but on the other hand, I want to run to the hills and forget its very existence. 

I gave up on my personal Facebook page a while ago, but I seemed to have replaced it with Instagram, and can waste hours just scrolling through images. Sometimes I feel inspired by the images I see, but sometimes I just feel annoyed and a bit lost in a vast sea of photographers, who are all trying to be authentic and stand out from the crowd. 

My mind is so heavy with all of the information I soak up on a daily basis, just from going online. Whether its social media feeds, emails, news, blogs... it's just non stop. And I fantasise about going cold turkey and having a long sabbatical from it all. 

I just feel like my creativity is not even mine anymore, because I don't have the space in my head for my own thoughts to distinguish themselves. How am I supposed to think and do with so much swimming around up there, not to mention being a full time mum, and also trying to make time for my music and fitness, the latter of which I sadly do very little.  

And so, with the knowledge that I need social media for my business, I just need to find a way to make peace with it, and find a healthy balance that I can maintain. But I don't know what that is yet. 

First stop though, is to do more offline, real world things. I recently discovered a magazine called Breath, which is all about wellbeing and creativity and natural living. And in it, it suggests creating an inspirational mood board - a collage of images and/or writing, that can be on a set subject, such as photography or wellbeing, or just random things that make you feel uplifted and inspired.

I will explore this further in my next blog! 

The image below is from my Women Wild and Free session with Manon, a mother and yoga teacher. I love this photo - it really is wild and free. 

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Amongst the Trees - Moments that Matter

What a lovely family. So genuine and natural and so many smiles. We went on a little woodland adventure for a couple of hours, and I just sort of blended in with the trees and leaves, letting this gorgeous little family lead my photography. This is what I do best. And it is what makes for the most honest, raw and natural family photos you could hope for. 

Being a stay at home mum + photographer

Sometimes I wish I had just wanted to be a nurse or a teacher or something stable and permanent and useful. 

Being a photographer is hard work. And that's not to say I am opposed to hard work, quite the contrary. But I am a now person. I want things to happen now. I want a hundred people to make a booking with me now. I want a thriving photography business now. I want a kitten now. 

Of course I have to put in a lot of time and energy to achieve that. And with two small people to look after, it leaves me feeling a little exhausted and downhearted. And sometimes I wonder if it's all worth it. If I am worth it. 

But I just have this innate creative passion inside me. I am a dreamer. A romantic. An idealist. I have a vision in my head of the photographer I want to be. And because I'm a perfectionist, I start doubting it all because it's taking me so bloody long to get there! 

So I must remember that I have made leaps and bounds of progress in the last couple of years. Aside from being a full time mum, I've created a new Women Wild and Free project (a few of which I have shared below), which will soon be featured in a family mag. I've had some lovely family photo shoots, and I've improved massively with my technique and with my artistic vision. 

I have really enjoyed this journey, and found a huge sense of achievement along the way. And really, it's all about that. I mean, yes, it would be lovely to be earning a decent wage too! But... perhaps good things really do come to those who wait.