Category Archives: Photography

Cow Parsley and its Rogue Cousin Common Hogweed

I love the Welsh hedgerows of summer,
full of white Cow Parsley, Common Hogweed,
and dotted with Red Campion, and purple Foxgloves.

Cow Parsley and its cousin Common Hogweed - The Delicate Beauties of the Hedgerow - The Last Krystallos

Delicate white Cow Parsley and Hogweed flowers sway gently amid roadside flora, and along paths, and the edges of fields. Both Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) and Common Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) are common sights from spring into summer, and their dry stalks and skeletons decorate the verges when autumn and winter arrives.

Cow Parsley Hogweed Flowers - The Last Krystallos

Cow Parsley – Hogweed – Hemlock © Lisa Shambrook

Being an everyday sight in the UK countryside, Cow Parsley has become a favourite wild plant to include in my writing, its form and structure adds to descriptive scenes and offers history and familiarity to the reader.

It’s also familiar to readers who understand herbs and plants, as cow parsley has been used in traditional medicines to treat ailments, stomach and kidney problems; breathing difficulties and colds. You must be able to positively recognise the plant before using it as medicinal, or even in cooking, as you can make Cow Parsley soup and a variety of other recipes. My sister advises me that her horses love Cow Parsley!

Cow Parsley - The Last Krystallos

Cow Parsley © Lisa Shambrook

Cow Parsley is recognisable with its long, green, furry stems which are ribbed and have a V shaped groove, umbels of white flowers often tinted pink (left in picture below), and fern like leaves (top middle). Common Hogweed is a very close relation. Its leaves are edible when young, and it’s discernible from Cow Parsley by its daintier florets and broader leaves, but more rounded (bottom middle) than the jagged, spiky leaves of Giant Hogweed. Another cousin is the Wild Carrot (Daucus carota) with narrow ferny leaves and heads of tiny white flowers, but you’ll recognise the difference as the Wild Carrot’s flower cluster usually has a single red/purple flower right in its centre.

Common Hogweed, Cow Parsley, Giant Hogweed and Hemlock Leaves Stems - The Last Krystallos

Common Hogweed (left/bottom middle), Cow Parsley (top middle), Giant Hogweed (top right) and Hemlock (bottom right) Leaves/Stems © Lisa Shambrook

It has to be said that you need to be incredibly careful not to confuse these with their dangerous and poisonous relations Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) and Hemlock (Conium maculatum).

The first way to tell Giant Hogweed apart from its Common counterpart and Cow Parsley is its size. Cow Parsley can grow to just over 1m (3-4 ft), Common Hogweed a bit taller, but Giant Hogweed grows up to 3m (almost 12 ft) and its umbels of flowers are pure white and can reach the size of 60cm (2 ft) across. Giant Hogweed will generally tower over you and its stems are far thicker. Its leaves are deeply lobed with jagged, serrated edges, and its stem is bristly and purple blotched, (which you can see in the top right picture). Giant Hogweed has violent sap which will react if it touches skin in bright sunlight inducing burns and painful blistering, needing quick medical attention. My mother discovered this when she tried to cut one down without realising what it was and ended up arms of red blisters and hospital treatment.

Common Hogweed Leaves Stem - The Last Krystallos

Common Hogweed © Lisa Shambrook

Hemlock is much smaller, and very similar in appearance to Cow Parsley with fern like leaves, but it also has stems blotched wine-red, though its stalks are smooth (bottom right in picture). All parts of Hemlock are poisonous though it was also used as medication by the Anglo-Saxons.

Giant Hogweed is well known for its dangerous phototoxic sap, but it’s wise to remember that all of these plants have sap that reacts to bright sunlight. In the same way a wild animal would attack if assaulted plants can do the same, and if these plants are cut down by mechanical means (strimmers etc) they utilise their defences and their sap will react and burn when it touches skin.

Wild Carrot - The Last Krystallos

Wild Carrot © Lisa Shambrook

Both Cow Parsley and Wild Carrot are also called Queen Anne’s Lace in the UK. Queen Anne took the British throne in 1702, and she was the second daughter of James II. A story goes that the queen asked her ladies-in-waiting to see who could make lace as beautiful as the cow parsley in the countryside, and only she could. Another story says that Queen Anne pricked her finger while making lace, thus why the Wild Carrot has a purple flower at its centre.

Cow Parsley, Foxglove and Red Campion - The Last Krystallos

Cow Parsley, Foxglove and Red Campion © Lisa Shambrook

I love the wild flowers that embellish my landscape, and along with Bluebells, delicate, lacy Cow Parsley enchants me as it bends in the breeze like fairy blossom…

Sunset and Cow Parsley - The Last Krystallos

Sunset Umbels © Lisa Shambrook

What wild flowers charm you?

Where does the Beach take you?

It’s turning into beach weather here in the UK…
though, in my opinion, all year is beach weather for me.
I love wandering a lonely, cold, winter beach as much as
paddling through the surf on a warm, summer evening.
But what entices you to the ocean, what floats your boat?

Where does the Beach take you... - The Last Krystallos

Is it the heat, the sun, and the chance to sunbathe, or family time and BBQs, building sandcastles, and jumping waves, or do you prefer to explore, climb rocks, and appreciate the beauty?

Do you enjoy the sounds of the ocean rolling across pebble beaches? I grew up in Brighton, and the sound of the sea turning pebbles brings back all kinds of memories.
I adore walking barefoot over sand, and letting the surf lap across my feet, so the gorgeous West Wales beaches, where I live now, fit me perfectly…

Pebbles-vs-Sand-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Do you like the flora that thrives in the salty air, and the seaweed decorating the beaches? I have a weird penchant for wearing seaweed hairpieces…

Flora-and-Seaweed-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Do you collect shells, do you search out conch, mussels, and pretty shells, and do you put them to your ear to hear the sea? Do you listen to the shrieking gulls with pleasure or irritation?

Wildlife-and-Shells-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

And speaking of irritation, do you feel compelled to share your chips with the local birds? Fish n’ chips on the beach can’t be beaten! Do you sit on the beach with can of coke and newspaper wrapped chips and watch the sunset? Do you embrace your loved one as the sun disappears below the horizon in a fiery ball and the stars begin to sparkle?

Sunsets-and-Food-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Do you love your feet in the ocean, do you paddle or dive right in? On the hottest days, dunking beneath the waves can be refreshing and invigorating.
Or do you prefer to sunbathe, lying on the beach worshipping the sun, or do you take a book and lose yourself in stories?

Feet-in-the-Sea-and-Relax-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Are you one of the lucky ones who can surf the waves – either on a board, or in a boat? Can you relax on board and let the ocean rise and fall beneath you?

Boats-and-Ocean-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Do you love to explore, to climb the rocks, dive from cliffs, build dens, and get creative? Do you take photoshoots of mermaids, dystopia, and conquer pirates?

Explore-and-Dystopia-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Are sandcastles your thing? Are you an architect of the golden grains? Do you build turrets, and moats, and make lolly stick flag poles? Do you sculpt the sand to your every whim, designing and creating with imagination and the salty breeze? Can you build towers of pebbles, balancing in an ever more intricate game of Jenga?

Fun-and-Craft-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The Palace Pier, now the Brighton Pier – though I can’t ever call it that – was a haunt for my childhood self, walking along the wooden timbers watching the green sea swell beneath me, feeling the ocean in my hair.
Do you search for lonely bays, lost coves, quiet havens, and romantic harbours? Do you walk from one end of the beach to the other, kicking through the rippling waves?

Bays-and-Piers-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Or are you like me, as long as my feet are in the water, I let the siren call of the ocean beguile me, and I lose myself in the beauty of the sea?

Beauty-and-Waves-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

What is it for you? What draws you to the beach, to the salty sea?

What entices you to the ocean?

The Tears of Nature – Rain and Flowers

Spring flowers laced with crystal tears…
the warmth of Summer nurturing her flora…

The Tears of Nature – Rain and Flowers - The Last Krystallos

A lovely friend posted a couple of photos on Facebook this week
of her garden flowers in the rain, and as we’ve had a fair bit of rain this May
it made me think of my own flowers decorated with diamonds…

aquilegia-rhapsody-in-blue-rose-geranium-the-last-krystallos

Aquilegia, Rose – Rhapsody in Blue, Geranium © Lisa Shambrook

It rains a lot in Wales, but that’s not a bad thing.
Taking photos of flowers in the rain offers a beautiful clarity and charm.

aquilegia-arum-lily-philadelphus-belle-etoile-aquliegia-the-last-krystallos

Aquilegia, Arum Lily, Belle Etoile – Philadelphus, Aquilegia © Lisa Shambrook

Water is the essence of life, watching thirsty plants flourish shows how vital it is to all of us.

paeony-geranium-poppy-tulip-the-last-krystallos

Paeony, Geranium, Oriental Poppy, Tulip © Lisa Shambrook

Dewdrops, crystal, diamond rain, reflection, life, clarity,
nature’s mantle to beautify our lives…

Ladies-mantle-rudbekia-daffodil-aquilegia-the-last-krystallos

Ladies Mantle, Rudbekia, Daffodil, Aquilegia © Lisa Shambrook

 What flowers have you enjoyed seeing laced with nature’s tears?

The Tears of Nature – Rain and Flowers - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Colours to Inspire – Neutrals – What’s Your Favourite?

I recently blogged about my favourite jewel tones, so now is the time of neutrals…
Neutrals are natural and classy – things I hope I am!

Colours to Inspire - Neutrals - What's Your Favourite - brown, grey, black, and white - The Last Krystallos

Neutrals are classic, and classy, and suit everyone.
They range from monochromes to warm browns and moody greys.

Colour-brown-the-last-krystallos

Warm Browns © Lisa Shambrook

Brown is one of my favourite colours, and has always been one of my base colours complementing the greens I love so much.
Brown is warmth, nature, autumn, and softness…

Colour-grey-the-last-krystallos

Moody Greys © Lisa Shambrook

Grey is a colour I’ve only recently embraced,
but it swathes the moody sky and matches my stormy emotions.
Grey is elegant, emotional, temperamental and classy…

Colour-black-the-last-krystallos

Mysterious Black © Lisa Shambrook

Black is classic, a colour that suits everyone who wears it.
Black is sultry and plays to my enigma.
Black is mystery, darkness, night, and imagination…

Colour-white-the-last-krystallos

Pure White © Lisa Shambrook

White has never been my colour, I shy away from its exposure,
preferring the invisibility of darker tones.
White is peace, calm, purity, and wisdom…

What’s your favourite neutral colour and what does it mean to you?

The Trouble with Lichen…

I‘ve blogged about moss before, that carpet of jewelled green that enthrals me,
and lichen does the same. Lichen has the same delicate natural beauty
clinging to crumbling walls, to trees, and swathing the local woodlands.

The-Trouble-with-and-the-Beauty-of-Lichen-The-Last-Krystallos

I don’t think there is any trouble with lichen, yep, I’m a John Wyndham fan, but we haven’t yet decided if lichen is the fountain of youth – it may be, but that’s another story!

The-Trouble-With-Lichen-The-Last-Krystallos-five-varieties-of-lichen

Five varieties of lichen © Lisa Shambrook

I love how lichen decorates trees and rocks, swathing walls, finding its way into nooks and crannies in an almost microscopic way. Moss and lichen create drapery and carpets for our woodlands and forests in the UK. You can also find them on rocks and cliffs at the beach, surviving in deserts and seemingly barren terrain, and in the Rainforests, and upon snowy mountain ridges. They can be found across the planet from Antarctica to the Equator and back to the Arctic.

Foliose-lichen-branch-rusty-wooden-seat-The-Last-Krystallos

Foliose Lichen © Lisa Shambrook

It is thought lichens were probably the first flora ever to adorn the earth… We have used it for antibiotic compounds, scents in perfumes, and much in science. Beatrix Potter also studied lichens and drew them for scientific works before Peter Rabbit grew in fame! Before synthetic dyes were produced, soft greens, brown, yellows, and even orange, red, and blue dyes could be made from lichens. It’s also been used to date rocks and glaciers. There are Arctic lichens that have lived for more than 4,000 years…

Foliose-Crustose-lichen-tree-fallen-branch-The-Last-Krystallos

Foliose, Squamulose, and Crustose Lichen © Lisa Shambrook

The observance of lichen can show the health of an area. They left cities during the Industrial Revolution, due to sulphur dioxide in the air from burning coal, but as we move away from coal lichen are reappearing in many areas they were once lost to. Pollution obstructs them and lichen growth shows purity and clean air.

Crustose-lichen-on-crumbling-wall-The-Last-Krystallos

Crustose Lichen © Lisa Shambrook

I find calm in the beauty of nature and examining the curls of leafy Foliose lichen, the spread of flat Crustose, the scales or squidgy pebbles of Squamulose, and the fascinating stalks of shrubby Fruticose lichen take me to a world of tranquillity.

Foliose-and-fruticose-lichen-Brechfa-Forest-The-Last-Krystallos

Foliose, Squamulose, and Fruticose Lichen © Lisa Shambrook

Lichen is not a single organism – it is a symbiotic relationship between fungus, and algae and/or cyanobacteria. Moss and lichen don’t have root systems, they anchor themselves with rhizoids. They don’t draw nourishment from the ground but through photosynthesis, air and water. They hold many times their own weight in water and aid the forest as sponging, cooling and humidifying systems. They are also able to go dormant when they’re under stress.

Foliose-lichen-heart-cherry-tree-The-Last-Krystallos

Foliose and Squamulose Lichen © Lisa Shambrook

Ever wonder why slugs and snails don’t feed on them? They have a bitter taste, unpalatable to slugs and snails. They are basic necessity within nature, as food, as nesting and den material, soil preparation, and they benefit the whole ecosystem.

Foliose-lichen-on-tree-and-roof-The-Last-Krystallos

Foliose and Squamulose Lichen © Lisa Shambrook

Lastly, some varieties have a high tolerance of radiation, and they are so hardy they have even been known to survive outer space – in 2005 an ESA (European Space Agency) experiment took them out of our atmosphere for two weeks, and upon re-entry they survived and thrived.

Foliose-and-Crustose-lichen-and-moss-hedgehogs-The-Last-Krystallos

Squamulose and Crustose Lichen and Moss Hedgehogs © Lisa Shambrook

Maybe we really will find life out there, maybe in the form of lichen…
or maybe, just maybe, they’ll be the toughest thing to survive this planet,
long after we have gone…

Fruticose-Foliose-Crustose-Lichen-on-Moss-tree-bark-rust-The-Last-Krystallos

Fruticose, Foliose, Squamulose, and Crustose Lichen © Lisa Shambrook

Colours to Inspire – Jewel Tones – What’s Your Favourite?

Scrolling my Instagram feed I noticed my favourite colour is very prominent…
I adore jewel and neutral earthy colours – I’m a nature girl!

Colours to Inspire - What's Your Favourite - The Last Krystallos...

So, I thought I’d share my favourite jewel tones with you –
as found on Instagram green, purple, blue and red.

Colour-green-the-last-krystallos

Moss Green © Lisa Shambrook

Green has been my favourite colour since I was a little girl,
and has literally grown with me.
Green is nature, tranquillity, spiritual, and harmony…

Colour-purple-the-last-krystallos

Mythical Purple – © Lisa Shambrook

Purple had a stint as my favourite colour when I was in my teens,
but had to give way to green again.
Purple is royal, jewel, elegant, and magic…

Colour-red-the-last-krystallos

Burgundy Red – © Lisa Shambrook

Red, dark red, has become a late favourite, and I’ve grown into it.
Red is passion, sensual, love, and depth…

Colour-blue-the-last-krystallos

Teal Blue – © Lisa Shambrook

Blue, teal blue, is a colour that suits me, it works with my brunette hair.
Blue is calm, serene, oceans, and life…

What’s your favourite colour and what does it mean to you?

What is the Love in Your Life?

Valentine’s Day always makes me think about the love in my life
So, here it is, everything that means Love to me… 

what-is-the-love-in-your-life-the-last-krystallos

What brings you LOVE in your life?

family-the-last-krystallos

Vince, Bekah, Dan, and Caitlin © Lisa Shambrook

My instant response to what brings me the most joy and love in my life is easy – my Family. My husband and children have brought me every emotion under the moon, but love overrides it all. My marriage and partnership with my husband is the most important relationship to me as my children came from this union. I’ve written about our love before and it’s blatantly obvious how much my children mean to me. Each one of them is a unique human being and I love how different each relationship is, how much fun and laughter and joy they bring to my life.
This is Love.

pets-the-last-krystallos

Rusty, Roxy, Raven, and Misty © Lisa Shambrook

Soft fur, purrs (the cats, they can’t help it!), devotion, dependence, twinkling eyes, curling up on your lap (yes, even a sixty pound German Shepherd tries this!), adoration, kneading kitty paws, wagging tail (generally the dog!), wet noses, pricked up ears, padding paws. Rusty, Roxy, Misty and Raven.
This is Love.

faith-spirituality-the-last-krystallos

Nature, scriptures, freeagency, and crystals © Lisa Shambrook

I don’t often write about my religious views and my Faith. My faith is vast, ever evolving, and it embraces humanity with a Christ-like vision, but my Christianity intertwines with aspects of nature and Paganism and the peace of Buddhism. I think Spirituality is a vast subject and faith is very personal. My beliefs make sense to me, and no one can challenge what my heart reveals to me.
This is Love.

creativity-writing-the-last-krystallos

Art, worldbuilding, sketches and notes, and dragons © Lisa Shambrook

I need a Creative outlet, without it I’d go quietly mad. I draw, plan, sketch, paint, sculpt, write, design, craft, photograph, and create. I create worlds with words, characters, plots, emotion, and dragons. I share my emotions in every piece I write or make.
This is Love.

pretty-things-the-last-krystallos

Acorn Cups, Trollbeads, Leather jacket, and Dr Martens Boots © Lisa Shambrook

Most of the things that bring me love are free, family, faith, nature, pets, imagination, but sometimes we have material items that mean something to us. If I wear something ‘til it’s worn out, then it’s been needed and loved. My leather jackets end up worn and torn, as do my beloved boots. I adore gems, I love pretty things, so my bracelet adorned with silver tokens and Murano glass beads means a great deal to me. Each trinket and bead means something, a moment, a place, people, something precious. And as I’m a squirrel, bushy-tailed and anxiously curious I have a thing for acorn cups and hazelnut shells.
This is Love.

What is the Love in your life?

Art by Instagram – Sharing your Artistic Streak with the World: Colours and Seasons

I love images – photographs, paintings, evocative writing,
and art that create the essence of something real, whether abstract or realistic.
I’m an artist of words, pictures, photographs, and sculpture,
and Instagram has been one of the ways I share my creativity with the world.

art-of-instagram-sharing-your-artistic-streak-with-the-world-seasons-lisa-shambrook-the-last-krystallos

I enjoy capturing moments and photography is the easiest way to do that, even easier since the advent of digital cameras, apps, and editing software.  Beautiful images soothe the soul, and I love being able to share them so readily.

Recently, as I scrolled my Instagram feed, I noticed how the seasons rule the colours in my photographs. It’s easy to recognise the season by the colours rippling through the collections of pictures. It’s subtle, but it’s there…

instagram-spring-lisa-shambrook-the-last-krystallos

Spring © Lisa Shambrook

Spring erupts across the pictures in deep bluebell lilacs, pale pinks and white of daisies, and blossom and spring flowers, daffodil yellow and clean greens with new growth and hope.

instagram-summer-lisa-shambrook-the-last-krystallos

Summer © Lisa Shambrook

Summer hails with beaches, blue sky and crashing ocean waves, deep rose pinks, lilacs and summer flowers, and magical rays of sunshine.

instagram-autumn-lisa-shambrook-the-last-krystallos

Autumn © Lisa Shambrook

Autumn brings deep berry red, gold, russet, crimson, and brown of crunchy, fallen leaves, warm colours and cosy pets, scarlet apples and night lights, and shimmering silver frost.

instagram-winter-lisa-shambrook-the-last-krystallos

Winter © Lisa Shambrook

Winter arrives with night-sky indigos and blues, glittery frost and gleaming snow, jewel tones and hot chocolates, bare trees and the colours of cold and chill and warm blankets.

The seasons have their own colours and tones and I love being able to scroll through them…

You can find me on Instagram @lisashambrook and I share more pictures on Flickr.

Which season owns your favourite colours?  

Loving Winter’s Chill – The Best Bits of Winter

Winter is the season of warmth and chill –
the warmth of sharing and loving and the chill of blizzards.

loving-winters-chill-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

Night Sky and Scented Candles…
I love it when the clocks go back… Night draws in and the stars twinkle with winter diamonds, and this winter Venus has sparkled like a gem in the sky. Inside, I burn scented candles: Cherry Vanilla, Chocolate, Berry Trifle, Honey Clementine, and the sweet aroma of Macaroon, Apple Strudel, and Snowflake Cookie waft down the stairs from my daughters’ rooms…

night-sky-and-scented-candles-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Frosted Leaves and Winter Trees…
I adore the bling that Jack Frost brings, sifting icing sugar across nature.
Leaves fall from trees, leaving them bare, and swathe the ground in glittered jewels.
Moss, the emerald survivor of the season, carpets the forest floor
and adorns the naked trees, clothing them in winter beauty.

frosted-leaves-and-winter-trees-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Warm Boots, Hats, Gloves, Scarves, and Cosy Blankets…
Don your best boots, wrap a cosy scarf about your neck, pull on a hat, and slip your hands into fleecy gloves – and you’re all set to wander out in the winter wonderland. If that doesn’t entice you, then snuggle down beneath a warm blanket and enjoy the central heating!

winter-boots-hats-gloves-scarves-and-soft-cosy-blankets-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Woodland Walks and Winter Landscapes…
The skies are a mixture of clear and frosty, rainy and dull, and rolling mist and fog,
enjoy those late sunrises and early sunsets and warm up with a walk.

woodland-walks-and-winter-landscapes-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Hot Chocolate and Winter Baking…
Baking takes centre stage with Christmas on the cards
from cookies, cakes, and pastries to hearty soups and winter cuisine.
Enjoy homemade fayre and settle with a steaming mug of creamy hot chocolate…

hot-chocolate-and-winter-baking-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Winter Flowers…
Delicate fairy-bell snowdrops peep through the snow or push through the soil to bring
new growth to the dormant season, accompanied by the beauty of hellebores.
Let winter flowers bring colour and hope.

winter-flowers-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Ruby Red Berries…
Like flowers, red berries, often associated with Christmas, shine bright like rubies, especially against the frost and snow, and they’re great sustenance for birds coping with the cold.

ruby-red-berries-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Christmas Joys…
My favourite holiday season is Christmas; it’s filled with so much joy and so much meaning. There are a multitude of celebrations during winter, all wrapped in lights, warmth, and love.
I love the Christmas cake, decorations, gifts, giving, food, and family time –
a time for peace and goodwill to all…

christmas-joys-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

All That Glitters…
Glitter everywhere – frost, snow, jewellery, stars, Christmas decorations, lights.
December glistens with Christmas sparkle,
and the rest of winter embraces the shimmer of nature
and the crackle of fire in the hearth.

all-that-glitters-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

A Crystalline Carpet of Snow…
When it snows I hurry to my window to watch the fluffy white stuff then rush outside to let it fall around me! That moment when you wake up and look outside and see a blanket of snow sparkling in the early morning sun is pure magic.

winter-snow-the-best-bits-of-winter-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

How is your Winter and what do you love about it most?

loving-winters-chill-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Check out The Best Bits of Autumn

Self-Confidence and the Selfie

We live in a selfie society, note: I said selfie, not selfish.
If you look around at any given moment while you’re out and about,
you are likely to see someone taking a photograph with their phone.
And often, if you’re with young people, you’ll see them whip out their phone,
hold it at an odd angle, grin and take a selfie or two – or three – or four – or lots…

self-confidence-and-the-selfie-putting-you-in-the-picture-the-last-krystallos

Cameras on phones are a given and most of us carry a phone with us, not only as a means of communication, but also as a record keeper, journal, diary, clock, educator, newspaper, personal stereo, entertainment centre, and, of course, a photograph album.

self-confidence-and-the-selfie-putting-you-in-the-picture-the-last-krystallos_all_my_selfies

All my selfies…gaining confidence © Lisa Shambrook

I grew up in a time when trying to take a photograph of yourself pretty much meant setting up a tripod and a timer on your camera then posing in front of it. I mean, did you ever try taking a pic of yourself at arm’s length with a Kodak Instamatic? The biggest revolution in cameras I saw, as a child in the early eighties, was the invention of the Polaroid and an instant picture at your fingertips. But none of these were suitable for a quick snap of yourself, even less indoors unless you wanted to be blinded by the biggest flash cubes ever!

lisa_the_last_krystallos

Selfies the old fashioned way – getting someone else to take photos of you! And how it usually turned out if you tried yourself… © Lisa Shambrook

I used to bribe my brother or get my Dad to come and take pics of me as I posed in my latest outfit, and they’d get bored fast as I said, “Take another just in case that’s blurry, or if that one doesn’t come out…” or the old, “Take a few so I can choose the best one…” or “I blinked, take it again!” Then there was the waiting and the expense. I’d send my films off to the printer in Bonusprint’s big envelope with a cheque, and sit and wait for the pictures to be returned. Can you remember that moment, opening your pack of 36 plus photos and flicking through them? Yep, and there was always the inevitable, “Well, at least there’s one or two good ones.” or maybe there weren’t and you curl your lip thinking, I’ll never look that good again and I didn’t get a decent print!

So, today we have it easy, you can snap a selfie within seconds, and if it’s rubbish or blurred you can delete it, and you can take as many as you wish until you get the one you like.  And even if your favourite isn’t quite as good as you hoped, hey, there’s always Instagram and you’ll find a filter that does you justice!

When front-facing cameras on phones became the norm, over the last decade, I watched as the selfie society grew, and I watched with fascination as my two daughters sat taking multiple pictures of themselves. I say I watched in fascination, not as a criticism, but because I struggled to do it myself!

I struggled for several reasons. One, because I came from a more restrained time, when posing for multiple selfies in public just wasn’t done without someone accusing you of vanity. Two, I lacked the self-confidence to take pictures of myself in public. And, three, I just could never make the damned angle work whenever I tried!

bekah-dan-and-cait-selfies

My children can do it! © Bekah Shambrook, Dan Shambrook, Caitlin Shambrook

My daughters would reel off picture after picture, deleting what they didn’t like and keeping what they did, and sometimes the pictures they took were so stunning, I wished I could do the same!

I had to overcome my sensibilities to be able to take a good selfie! I have had to be able to step outside myself and conquer shyness. I’ve had to become more comfortable with myself, with expressing myself, and not feeling vain. My daughters have taught me that I can be comfortable in my own skin and I can celebrate who I am. Taking a good selfie has increased my self-confidence.

There are still those who believe vanity is a part of our selfie society, and to a degree it may be, but I also believe this next generation has become more self-confident, bolder, stronger, and accepting. And those are qualities I wish to emulate. This Millennial generation, on a whole, is a brighter future, a more compassionate band of peers, a younger generation who want to include everyone, who are accepting and generous, and who aren’t afraid. These are people who want to be heard, who will fight for their beliefs, for equality, and for human rights. They accept themselves, they accept who they are and are much more comfortable within their own skins than my generation and those before ever were!

They can snap selfies and laugh at themselves, and can use social media to inform and grow, and can, I hope, in the future create a more forgiving and a more loving society. I do not believe the selfie society is a selfish one. A large percentage of selfies include others, groups gather together and take a selfie, a record of the moment, the occasion, the people. Selfies are about people, individuals and groups.

self-confidence-and-the-selfie-putting-you-in-the-picture-the-last-krystallos_family_selfies

Selfies celebrate family and friends © Lisa Shambrook and Bekah Shambrook

I am no longer embarrassed to take a selfie, to record myself at a moment when I feel good about myself, or I am somewhere I want to remember, or I want to grab my nearest and dearest as close as I can so we can all fit into a picture together.

My ability to take a selfie has grown with my confidence, and as I become happy in myself, I am able to celebrate who I am, and, you know, as much as it’s great to grab a quick shot of the sunset, or of a beautiful flower it’s also fun to whip out my phone and catch the moment, my moment! I can be beautiful too.

self-confidence-and-the-selfie-putting-you-in-the-picture-the-last-krystallos_lisa_selfie

When selfies work © Lisa Shambrook

Do you like taking selfies?

How do you put yourself in the picture?