Blog - Carla Coulson
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Paris Portrait Shoot + Light Tips

Is there anything more nerve wracking than taking a portrait of another photographer?

Well I must admit I had butterflies in my tummy when I started the morning with beautiful photographer Millie Brown but she was so fabulous they soon flew away.

Millie too left her life some time ago and is now taking gorgeous travel pics and if you want to travel vicariously check out her stunning work here.

Millie once lived in Paris and like all photographers never actually got to be in the photos so we decided to take some pics of her in this glorious city. Starting at Cafe Marly one of her favourite places..

We ducked down to the divine Louvre and the sculpture section. Who wouldn’t be inspired by a backdrop like this?

Every photographer needs one quick pic of herself with a Leica!

Off to our favourite garden in Paris the Luxembourg garden, too chic for words.

And last stop a Parisian cafe. What could be better?

Millie is also the photographer of a beautiful range of cards with France and Italy as the stars. You can order them online here.

Some light tips on how I shot these pics.

Shot 1. At Cafe Marly there was lovely morning light in Paris that day and I used the big open portico like window light asking Millie to turn towards the opening for soft light on her face.

Shot 2. Seated at Cafe Marly I did a similar thing in the above shot but used the light coming through one of the main entrances.

Shot 3. There is a wonderful glass roof in the Richelieu section of the Louvre and I asked Millie to look up so there was a soft light illuminating her face.

Shot 4. It was little gloomier in this section but I asked Millie to face towards a wall where the sun was bouncing back and illuminating her face.

Shot 5. It can be gloomy around the Medicis Fountain but to take advantage of the soft light I made sure she was at beginning of the fountain where the most light was coming in but not hitting her directly.

Shot 6. Mixed light Ugghhh.. I messed around here and changed places three times till I found a place where she was almost in even light even though the background still had mixed light. The important thing for me was that Millie looked great..

Shot 7. This was shot through the window of the cafe even though there isn’t a lot of reflection. It was difficult to find a place where there wasn’t a van parked across her face and I made sure she was close to the window to have this lovely soft light.

Wasn’t she a star!

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. Harriet Tubman

PS: If you would like a chance to win a copy of Chasing A Dream see this post for details.


What Photography Can Teach Us About Ourselves

Chasing a Dream Copyright Carla Coulson

Since taking up photography, learning the techniques has been a steep curve but one of the greatest discoveries is what the great master photography had to teach me about myself.

Photography allowed the poet out. Have you ever felt there was something you always wanted to say but you never had the courage to say it? I did and photography is the way I learnt to say it and then the words followed there after..

Photography taught me to really look at life. When you are behind a camera you are observing all the fine detail of life, the way someone rests their head on a shoulder, the touch of hands, the depth in a colour, the way the wind picks up a skirt and makes it move, the colour of the sky at different times of day, it’s as though life is a big screen and you are looking in macro.

Photography taught me to be patient. Once upon a time I wanted it yesterday and anyone that has picked up a camera knows that photography is all about waiting and if you wait and learn to be patient you will get the good stuff! Photography invites you to slow down.

Photography taught me to feel. Well I guess we all could say we feel but photography begs you to feel the language of people especially when you don’t speak the same language. An old man crossing the road where age has taken it’s toll on his bent back, the way two people hold each other as though they never want to let go or a windy road that leads to who knows where. To the untrained eye this is life to a photographer they are emotions.

Photography held the mirror up. Looking through viewfinder at other people’s lives invites you to reflect on yours. Who am I and what am I doing? I love that photography makes me ask myself this question.

What has photography taught you about yourself?



Quirky Old Paris – Musings On The Parisians

Parisian Train shop for grown-ups copyright Carla Coulson

It has been pouring for days in Paris and it has got me thinking about this town.

A friend arrived yesterday glowing from the south of France telling me that she had just left the beach. I was a little envious being a water baby!

I am not sure whether you have this afflication but do you ever ask yourself should you be living somewhere else?

Then I took a little stroll and had a think about Paris. Why do we love her so?

She is quirky, like this fellow gazing into the train shop window. What store in the world would even still sell trains that run around on tracks for little (and big) boys? Paris is chock full of quirkiness from Deyrolle, the taxidermist boutique that is out of this world to the stamp sellers in the 9th.

Who collects stamps when the whole world sends email I ask? Only in Paris..

Paris doesn’t fix things if they aren’t broken, she doesn’t replace the 18th century carousel in the Luxembourg gardens for a new one that will make you scream at the top of your lungs and she wouldn’t dream of updating her wonderful steel chairs that have been kicking around her gardens for centuries for plastic ones that would be cheaper, easier to maintain and move around. No Sirree.. Not in Paris. And she would never dream of  tearing down those wonderful wooden shop fronts that need repainting every year for a new whizz bang version. Don’t we love her?

She loves the individual, in Paris you can still find it all in a funny little shop that just sells cord, or another that only sells leather trims or one type of handbag. And Parisians aren’t scared of the competition, they generously gather the same type of cords shops, stamp collectors or camera shops together in the one quartier. How awfully thoughtful when you are shopping for a new camera or wanting to add to your stamp collection, no running around all over town just head to the stamp collecting quartier. J’adore Paris!

She loves beauty and attention to detail and generously plants flowers and almost hand trims the lawns in her public gardens, such attention to detail that would bring a grown man to tears.

Beauty, is there a city that loves beauty as much as Paris, from the wonderful graphics of her exhibitions, the breathtaking gowns of her couture runway shows to her decorated patisseries!!

Ok, so we don’t have the weather, we don’t have the beaches – but we will always have Paris!

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast. Ernest Hermingway



PS: Paris lovers might like my Paris Pinterest Board 

Prepare to Change Your Life – 3 Steps

My Amalfi Coast Copyright Carla Coulson


I hope you all had a great weekend full of relaxing moments, friendship and happiness.

My inbox continues to fill with letters about how to change your life so I felt in the mood today to write about some positive steps you can take towards changing your life even if you don’t know what it is you want in life.

Years ago when I lived in Sydney and my life was becoming smaller and smaller and I was becoming unhappier and unhappier there were a couple of things I knew.  I knew I was in the wrong career and this was holding me back from finding ‘my tribe’  and man was I sick of being single!

At the time  I didn’t know how to get out of my career and into a new one but I started my own search long before I finally left my life.

Here are some of the things I did which helped me a whole lot later down the track.

1. Decluttered.. I had always been a maximalist, I loved my things around me. There came a day when I looked at all my things and thought ‘how can I get out of here with you guys weighing me down’? I started to cull, I cleaned out all my cupboards as though I was ready to leave the next day and somehow it lightened my load and gave me clarity.

2. Budget… I made a budget. I realized although I earned a decent amount of money I was wasting it on buying things that made me feel good for a short amount of time. I had an empty bank account and cupboards full of clutter. I started to reverse this with a strict budget, I wrote down everything thing I spent and saw that I wasted so much money on nothing.

3. Explore.. I started exploring different courses and work options. I knew in my heart that it was my job that was blocking me from the life I wanted to live. Although I worked with a small group of marvellous people in the 13 years I had my business I hadn’t made one friend with my clients. I was in the wrong world. I thought maybe I needed to move to the country, work in another business or do something creative. I started to try all of these..Before I arrived in Italy and photography I had worked in the outback for a month (loved it but couldn’t see a life for me there), worked for a sports marketing company working on the Olympics (after the Outback i didn’t like being back in the city in a routine) and started an Italian course..

Change needs time and if you approach change as though it’s all about the journey not the destination everything you discover along the way will be a piece to your puzzle.

All is possible


Bye Bye Saturn – Breakout the Bagpipes

Photo Italy Copyright Carla Coulson

Break out the bagpipes! Because today after 3 long years in Libra, Saturn has gone!

Yes dear Librans, if you are one of us, kick off your shoes, let your hair down and do a little folk dance of joy because grumpy old Saturn won’t be back in our sun sign for another 29 years. Woohooo……

By then I will either have my angels wings or I will be such a tough old biddy I will be able to deal with anything he throws my way. Next time I might even throw something back at him! Watch out Saturn you have worked miracles on Carla.

Dear Saturn, thank-you for coming but most of all thank-you for going. The past three years have been one hell of a ride, I have jumped more hurdles than a frothing steeple chase horse, dodged more colliding planets than a Star Wars warrior and come out the other side bigger, stronger and beating my chest like a Jane version of Tarzan.

I guess by now you have figured out how darn excited I am that Saturn is off my case and onto someone else’s.

But I do have to thank Saturn for making me ask myself where I am going,for helping me see the next signpost along the roadside and for sending me in a direction I love.  Geez Saturn you weren’t so bad after all.

A special shout out to the fabulous Astrologer Susan Miller for keeping the news as positive as humanly possible whilst delivering sledge hammer blows one after the other.. If you don’t know Susan download her fabulous App Astrology Zone..It is currently offline due to a death in the family but she will be back soon.

So dear friends and especially Librans kick back, put on some music, pour yourself a big glass of champagne and enjoy the silence. Saturn has turned tail and we have turned the page.

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
Nelson Mandela