Blog - Carla Coulson
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Coco Chanel’s Apartment Paris – Recently Published Work

What happens when you receive an email from a magazine asking would you be available to shoot Coco Chanel’s apartment in Paris?

First you faint with excitement and then hit the reply button as soon as you can with a giant YES!!

That’s exactly what I did when House and Garden asked me to shoot Australian writer Sarah Ayoub in the  famed Rue Cambon apartment.

Sarah has idolised Coco Chanel from her teenage years when she saved every penny she had to buy her first Chanel handbag. It was her life dream to visit Coco Chanel’s apartment in Paris and you can read the full story in this month’s issue.

Sarah and I had the great fortune to have a Chanel historian recount the story behind each object and who gave it to Coco. We listened as the historian recounted the revolutionary way she decorated her apartment with simple linen curtains and a giant beige suede couch. At the time the decoration was all florals and heavy velvet or brocade draps. Go Coco!

I loved shooting this last portrait even though it is small on Coco Chanel’s famed staircase. It is a photo that I will always treasure in my portfolio of cool Parisian places and awe inspiring moments on my photographic journey. I pinched myself when I left her apartment that day.

Merci House and Garden, Sarah and Chanel!

“Fashion fades only style remains”. Coco Chanel




PS: Sarah has a popular blog called Chasing Aphrodite

Where to Stay in the Marais – 4 Star Hotels

Photographer Unknown

Cole Porter sang, I love Paris in the Springtime but she’s also glorious in the winter. The streets are shiny, glistening from the rain, the Christmas lights are slowly going up all over town and the coats and hats are out in full force.

In winter Paris is at her chicest! If that is a word?

I am asked all the time where to stay in the Marais. There are so many hotels but I am going to give you a list of my favourite 4 star hotels that are warm and cosy and decorated for winter. Think rich velvets, flocked wallpaper and log fires.

Here we go:

La Pavillion de la Reine – discreetly tucked behind one of the porticoes on Place des Vosges this a beautifully decorated hotel, quiet and has a wonderful courtyard to lounge around in the summer. Killer location.

Hotel Bourg Tibourg – Jacques Garcia designed the sweet little (rooms are small but aren’t they all in Paris?) Hotel Bourg Tibourg smack bang in the middle of the Marais. To-die-for location, scented candles and rich fabrics and textures. Kind of like Morocco in Paris in winter!!

Hotel Villa Mazarin – Just in front of BHV (great if you have forgotten your stockings or need to whip in and grab a new Bobbi Brown lipstick) the Hotel Mazarin is tucked away behind a door. You wouldn’t even know it was there but it has lovely decoration and is great value!

Hotel du Petit Moulin – This is in the hot new area of the Marais, the 3rd. Clever Mr. Christian Lacroix decorated this ex-boulangerie in a myriad of colours, textures, wallpapers and fabrics. The fashion crowd go wild for this hotel. Just in front of traditional bistro Chez Nenette so you drop into one of the Marais’s last traditional bistros for lunch.

Stay warm and if your visiting, rug up.

This is what you do on your very first day in Paris. You get yourself, not a drizzle, but some honest-to-goodness rain, and you find yourself someone really nice and drive her through the Bois de Boulogne in a taxi. The rain’s very important. That’s when Paris smells its sweetest.  It’s the damp chestnut trees”.

Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina 


My Favourite Parisian Florists

If you are coming to Paris you won’t want to miss her flower shops. Amongst the flowers and the perfume you will discover the true style of the Parisians.

Those sweet little local shops with their fine selection of peonies and sweet peas, lillies and roses and their devoted staff creating bouquets with love. All the flowers are sorted into colour and there is hardly a mixed bunch to be found.

Here are some of my favourites:

L’Artisan Fleuriste

95 Rue Vieille Du Temples

75003 Paris

This florist is in my hood and they always have an exquisite selection of seasonal flowers. I had my wedding bouquet made here and let them decide on the flowers and colour as  I trusted their good taste.


11 Rue De Sevigne

Paris 75004

Vertige is located in the heart of the Marais just two steps from St Paul Metro. They have a beautiful display of flowers outside that has caused me the odd trip every now and then.

Marche Place Baudoyer

Place Baudoyer

Paris 75004

Each Saturday I take my place at my local flower stall in Marche Place Baudoyer in the 4th to select my weekly flowers from Carole’s seasonal array. All colour coded on hue and type! This is a small market and most Saturdays amongst the market stalls you can catch the weddings happening in our local town hall that spills into the same Place.

dani roses, paris florist, carla coulson, fleuriste paris, hotel costes

 Me a tiny little bit excited to be at Dani Roses

Dani Roses

239-241 Rue Saint Honore

Paris 75001

Ok gals if you love roses this place is going to spin your head. It’s heaven.. Roses and glitz all together. The clever folks next door at the Hotel Costes opened this boutique designed by reigning French king of sumptuous design, Jacques Garcia. The roses here are like the ones you used to find in your grandma’s garden, heavenly perfumed in pastel colours and it’s a life changing experience to receive a bouquet of these I know, (thank-you Claire).


Nouvelle Eve

7 Rue du Jourdain

Paris 75020

If you want to go see an upcoming neighbourhood you could head to the 20th. Fleuristes like Nouvelle Eve are quietly going about their business of beauty thrilling the locals and visitors like me with mini purple arum lillies and peonies in every colour imaginable.


Even Montmatre

53 Rue Notre Dame de Lorette

Paris 7500

Sopi (South of Pigalle) is the hot new area to visit in Paris for so many reasons. Every time I go to my hairdresser up here I marvel at the new and groovy restaurants, bars and shops. A little New York vibe happening for sure. You will find beautiful florist Even in this area and if you are poking around looking for beauty do drop by.

Where to see beautiful flowers

Go treat yourself to a champagne at the bar of the George V Hotel just so you can walk through the foyer and feast your eyes upon the flowers of superstar florist Jeff Leatham.

Jardin du Luxembourg

The Jardin du Luxembourg in any season will stop you in your tracks. This garden never disappoints thanks to 80 gardeners keeping her flowers perfect.

I hope you enjoyed my little floral tour of Paris!! Wherever you go in Paris it is a visual feast and even the trees leave us lovely little messages of love.

“All I wanted was to connect my moods with those of Paris. Beauty paints and when it painted most, I shot”

Ernest Haas



“I have no formal qualifications as a photographer, just the school of life. I learned most by just taking pictures; a lot of pictures…. Being a photographer is like being an athlete. You must practice every day.” And like an athlete, you must be tough”.


I am having the most marvellous time at the moment, knee deep in magazines, books and images preparing for the Picture This Workshop. Avedon (that would be my kitten) is a great help, flipping the pages of magazines even when I haven’t asked him!

I love the above quote by Demarchelier, how photography is like being like an athlete and how you must practice everyday and the tough bit is so true. Even Mr Demarchelier got a knock back from Elle magazine on his first try. See you need to have thick skin and lots of passion.

I am sure photography from the outside looks easy but Mr Demarchelier’s words are so true!

Looking back through my old fashion photos is like time travelling, each shoot seems so vivid the  difficulties I had on the day, the way the model worked, wrestling with the light (and the rain), the excitement as the model exited from hair and make-up, the fun (oh the fun of it all) and seeing the final results printed in the magazine.

My road has been long and bumpy and ever so exciting. These are some of things I have learnt from shooting fashion:

1. How to work with a model

2. How to get the most out of natural light working outdoors, indoors and when it is raining cats and doggies.

3. What emotion, movement can bring to a photo.

4. Creating a connection with your subject.

5. Posing and how the human body looks more interesting at certain angles.

6. Creating variety in the images

7. Using scale change from wide shots to portraits

8. What works in fashion doesn’t necessarily work shooting portraiture (like blue lips for example)

9. Creating authentic images

10. Working side by side with stylists and hair and make-up artists and observing their craft

11. Knowing their is no room for mistakes

12. Getting the shots under any circumstances

All photos copyright Carla Coulson

13. What my style is!

14. What my colour preferences are and how I like to post-process my images

15. How images work together

16. Working on location and scouting them

17. And how much I love photography!!!!

I have ONE PLACE LEFT  in the Picture This Workshop where I hope to share as much as I can in three days about what I have learnt in fashion and how it can help you make unique, beautiful portraits.

We will spend 50 percent of the time shooting and the rest discussing fashion, working with your subjects, portraiture, post-processing and workflow, how to balance it all and creating a business plan.

If you would like to join me and a great list of other photographers for the 7,8,9 January please get in touch asap or check out the full story here.

“You don’t make a photo with a camera, you bring to the act of photography every picture you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved”.

Ansel Adams


Living and Working Overseas – Tip #1

Who wouldn’t want to live and work overseas?

The idea sounds so romantic.

Even as I write this on a 2 degree Parisian day with the the light fading outside and the lamplight glowing with the soundtrack of Parisians on their way home, it still feels romantic. In about 15 minutes I will run out the front door to a divine Parisian specialty store and purchase something delish to cook for our 2nd wedding anniversary dinner (with my Italian husband). Sounds even better hey!!!

Well the reality of living and working overseas is a little different to what we imagine but I wouldn’t swap it for anything.

I could fill a book on this subject but for those of you toying with the idea my #1 tip is to take a reconnaissance trip to the country of your choice and not a holiday. Try and stay at least one month or more if possible before uprooting your life and see if you actually like it. Don’t go in your favourite season everything looks good when it is warm.

A holiday and living in a country are two totally different things. Rent yourself an apartment and start gathering information. Do an intensive language course whilst you are there so that you can start to communicate.

All photos copyright Carla Coulson

Whilst you are there find out about:

1. How much it costs to rent a property long term and what documents you will need.

2. What are your weekly budgets for food, bills, restaurants, travel.

3. Get to know locals in your neighbourhood

4. Track down someone from your country who is living in the country of your choice before you leave and arrange to meet them. You will learn more from someone who has already been through this experience.

5. Read as many books by expats who are living in your country of choice and see what difficulties they have hit.

6. Ask yourself how you will make money and investigate any of your potential ideas whilst on your reckie trip and the possibility of getting work.

7. Go to the consulate of your chosen country in your own country and get all the paperwork necessary for moving overseas and see if there are any documents you can gather on your reckie trip.

8. Try and get that bar job to tide you over and see if it is really possible to get one.

9. Imagine you are there long term. See how it feels.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.???  St Augustine