Frequently Asked Questions

Photography

Where did you study photography?

I studied photography in a private photography school in Florence that unfortunately no longer exists.

Have you studied photography in Australia?

Yes, I did three short courses at the ACP in Sydney after my year in Florence. A lighting course and a colour course, I loved both of these courses and met some great Australian photographers in the process.

Why did you switch careers at 35 and become a photographer?

I found myself at 35 living a life I no longer wanted. I was single, running my own clothing business in Sydney and living (and eating) alone. I realised thanks to winning client of the year at my local Thai take-away that I needed to change my life. I left to go to Italy for a one month Italian course and kept staying. I realised I no longer wanted to go back to my old life in Sydney and vowed to spend the second part of my life doing something I loved. That something was photography.

How did your big break into the world of photography happen?

My big break came when I had my first story published in Marie Claire Australia. As a final project at my photography school in Florence I photographed a travel story on Naples that was edited by my photographer teacher. I pitched it to Marie Claire in Australia and they bought it. They also published in the same issue a ‘style’ story I photographed on a make-up artist friend of mines apartment in Sydney. Thirteen pages in the first issue. I cried when I heard the news. Having those magazine ‘tear sheets’ were like gold, they opened doors.

What’s in my camera bag?

Most days you will find a Canon 5d Mark II, a canon 24-70mm lens, a Canon 85mm portrait lens and a Canon 50mm lens. I also love shooting portraits with my Leica M8.2 and have a 35mm Leica Summicron lens, 50mm Leica Summicron Lens and a 90 mm Leica Summicron lens. For creating light I use a Nikon SB 800 Speedlite and a Lastolite mini softbox that fits onto it. I also have a set of Hahnel Combi TF Pro remote control to trigger the speedlite. As well as a white and silver Lastolite reflector disc. For special assignments I rent lights or lens.

What advice do you have for other photographers trying to break into the industry?

Create your own work and pitch a story to a magazine (if you want to be published). I believe it is a great way to get published and it has worked for me numerous times throughout the years Most magazines won’t give a photographer a job based on their portfolio straight out of photography school. They are looking for signs you have worked. A body of work is vital even if you aim isn’t to get published. You need a great body of work to show your style to prospective clients.

Best advice you ever received?

Take the photos you love! And finish it! I remember when a friend in the industry told me that if you finish things people will notice. I thought it was such strange advice at the time but now realise it is an art to finish things. Many photographers take incredible images but find it hard to finish the project. This is a key part of working as a photographer.

What qualities do you believe is needed to be a successful photographer?

First I think you need to have a vision of your own and not worry about what everyone is doing around you. I think you also need to know when you start out as photographer that you are getting yourself into a business and that you need a plan. One without the other won’t necessarily make you a successful photographer.

How did you get to where you are today?

A whole lot of hard work!! Time has flown and the adventure has been fabulous but things have happened I believe because I have consistently worked hard, delivered things on time and always taken the best photos possible. No overnight sensations here!

Do you prefer black & white or colour?

I love both but I adore portraits in black and white. Unless the colour is incredible there is something about portraits in black and white that seems to focus more on the soul of the person. Maybe the colours distract a little. Likewise when colour is amazing, it’s AMAZING.

Do you prefer digital or film and why?

I started out using film and like lots of film photographers found the move to digital difficult. I love the texture of film and it brings its own magic to the photo. Having said that digital is convenient and the texture of the images have come a long way. But we end up spending way too much time at the computer.

What motivated you to start ‘Carla Loves Photography Blog’?

I started Carla Loves Photography in 2008. I had the desire to share images with others and loved the idea of the flexibility of a blog. Without knowing I found a wonderful online community of photographers all around the world. On the blog I try and share as many photography tips used in the creation of my photos and also the experience of starting life as a photographer from scratch at 35 years of age.

What is important for you in your photos?

The most important thing for me in a photo is emotion. I strive to create photos that make you feel something along with great composition, beautiful lighting and a wonderful subject and background.

Do you sell your work?

Yes, I have a small range of images printed onto fine art paper that you can buy here.

Do you give workshops or private tuition?

I don’t give one-on-one tuition but I am planning a series of workshops for 2012. If you would like to be informed when the dates are released sign up here.

Portrait Sessions

I am not a professional model and I have never had my photo taken, will you help me during a session?

Most of the people I shoot in my private portrait shoots aren’t models. That’s the great thing! I will help your with direction and art direction during the shoot and do everything I can to make you forget I am there. Most shoots are good fun and after the first couple of pics you will have just as much fun as I will. For more info check out Paris Muse or Midnight in Paris.

How long does a typical private shoot last?

Most private shoots last up to 4 hours including hair and make-up? This gives us time to get as much variety in the photos as possible and make clothing changes as required.

Do you shoot weddings?

As much as I love the romance and beauty of a wedding day I am not equipped to shoot these. They are better shot by a team of photographers. I do love doing wedding portraits the day or during the week leading up to the wedding. You can contact me here to get more information.

Do you do portraits in Australia?

Yes! I am in Australia at least once a year and have a week set aside to do private shoots so if you are interested get in touch with me here and let’s see if we can work out a date that suits you.

What lighting do you use in the private shoot sessions?

Wherever I can I use natural light but if the light fails me I use flash with a range of different sized soft boxes. My aim always is to create as flattering light as possible.

Books

What made you decide to publish your first book?

I had been in Italy for almost three years and had accumulated boxes and boxes of negatives. The idea of publishing a book on the country I loved so much was always a dream. I never thought it would become a reality and then Italian Joy was born. It still remains today one of my favourite works.

Out of the three books which one is your personal favourite?

I love Italian Joy and Chasing a Dream but I guess I would have to choose Italian Joy. The images were taken when I was just out of photography school and they were straight from my heart. I hardly knew how to put the camera in focus but I was totally head over heels in love with Italy and photography I think this passion comes through in the images. Those years in Italy were some of the best years of my life so full of light and love. Many readers connected to my story of leaving my life in Sydney and unbeknown to me at the time of writing I found lots of women discontented with what they were doing with their lives who related to my story.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration everywhere! In movies, history, old photography, the weather, fashion, women, interior decors and of course other photographers work. Ideas come at the strangest moments.

Do You have a favourite photograph?

That is such a hard question!! I took a photo years ago that I have always loved that was on the back of Italian Joy. It was of my little niece playing on a set of swings and happiness and joy screamed from that photo. Photos that are full of emotion are my favourites.

Personal

Where are you currently living?

I have lived in Paris since 2004 in the Marais district with my husband.

Was there a particular event which served as a catalyst to your decision to change your life?

Yes, Christmas for me had become an event each year where I held the mirror up to see what had happened during the year. As I approached 35 it seemed as though the year that had just passed was the same as the previous ten years. I was single, unhappy, doing something I wasn’t passionate about. Everybody else in my family was married with children and as I approached my 35th Christmas the thought of it made my stomach churn. On the Friday night before Christmas I had my first fight in 13 years with my business partner over something trivial, I called all my friends in Sydney to meet up for a drink and all I got was answering machines. I headed to my local pool to ‘kill time’ and when I picked up my Thai take-away there at the bottom of the bag was a gift. I had been voted their best client for 1999. If the Christmas ‘mirror’ wasn’t enough that present summed up what my life had become. A single Sydney girl who lives and eats alone and will probably be doing this for the rest of her life. It freaked me out. I called my business partner sobbing and we meet in a local café and in front of the embarrassed diners I blurted out that I couldn’t go on living this life.

How long were you in Italy before starting photography school?

I arrived in Italy with the plan to do a one month Italian course that turned into 6 months. At the point I realised I couldn’t go back to my life in Sydney. I did a lot of soul searching as to what I wanted to do with my life and the only thing I knew I really loved was photography. That was when I enrolled in a photography school in Florence.

Do you still go back to Italy?

Yes, I travel to Italy as often as I can and fortunately work has always allowed me numerous trips a year. I love Italy, it will always have a special place in my heart and so will the people who were part of my journey all those years ago. Popi remains one of my dearest friends. I go and see her whenever I can.

Are you married?

Yes, I finally tied the knot with my Italian sweetheart in Paris in October of 2010. It was an incredible moment to finally get married after all those of years of being single. I never thought I would marry so it felt funny and special all the same. You can have a look at us on the way to our local town hall here.

Would you advise someone to change their life as completely as you did?

I wouldn’t advise anyone to do what I did in the way I did it but I would advise someone to do it in a planned thought out way. Why not! It has been 12 years since I left Sydney and I have had more life experience in the past 11 years than in the first 35 years put together. The learning curve has been off the Richter scale but on the other hand my life is exciting, I live in Paris, I photograph total strangers who become friends, have assignments to photograph incredible places I would never have access to and I am constantly pushed out of my comfort zone but I learn something new every day.I would advise you if you want to radically change your life to plan it, work out an economic way of surviving it, inform yourself about as much as possible especially if you are considering living in another country as there are many surprises.