Blog - Carla Coulson
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Week 2 Taking Better Pictures – People Pics with Emotion

Thanks to all of you that joined in my ‘smirkshop’ (smile and work) last week on composition and shared your photos! This week I want to talk about one of my favourite subjects in portraiture and that is creating a connection and emotion between you and your subjects.

Though portraiture looks easy sometimes creating a connection with your subject isn’t easy at all. Many people have a cronic fear of being in front of the camera. I have worked with models and loads of people off the street and the great images come from those that have ‘let go’, the ones that have no fear, that are willing to play, to make an idiot of themselves and ‘to dance as though no-one is watching’.

Emotion doesn’t come just from the eyes and the face, our bodies are a vital part of the emotional story. The way we place our hands, our heads, the ‘shape we create with our body’, how we sit and the movement of our body tells its own story. If your body is tense, the camera sees it.

I am a fan of all emotion, it can be happiness, joy, frustration, questioning, fear, what is important is that in an image their is real ‘connection’ and this comes through in the photo. Our job as a photographer is to create this connection, it isn’t enough to have a pretty photo with nice light and nice composition and a dead subject! Sorry gang, this is the truth.

So if you subject is paralysed with fear or doesn’t know how to pose (who does) then you dear photographer need to charm them, to put them at ease, make the experience fun and have a secret booty of poses that will make anyone look good.

Here’s what I do:

1. I always talk with my subjects, have a coffee with them before getting out the camera. I try to get to know what their passions are, if they dance or are into cars. Whatever it is so we can relate.

2. I give them roles to play (someone in a film or someone they can relate to ) and often a prop.

3. I get them moving (nothing like trying to concentrate on where to put your foot) to take their minds off me.

4. I have an archive of great poses on my Iphone, so if I am stumped I check for inspiration.

5. I say dumb stuff that makes them laugh.

6. I speak in different voices, if I want the shot to be calm or full of energy.

7. I never tell them they look silly.

8. I love when they suggest something, you never know what might happen.

9. I remind them they are not at the dentist!! This is only photography.

10. I have fun and even if it is all going pear-shaped never lose my cool!

All images copyright Carla Coulson Chasing a Dream





It’s My Darling’s Birthday



 Francesco Copyright Carla Coulson

It’s my darlings birthday today so we are dancing with joy in Paris.

Most photographers have a gorgeous gal as their muse but I have the fortune to have a gorgeous guy as mine.  No matter where we go I am always snapping him!

I met Francesco almost 10 years ago now and I love him for all these reasons:

1. He has never changed from the day I met him.

2. He is kind to me, my friends, strangers, children and animals.

3. He is the sweetest man I have ever met and affectionate to boot.

4. When he speaks english I could tape it and sell it, it sounds so adorable.

5. He is gorgeous!!

6. He is intelligent and has a thirst for learning.

7. He loves Mediterranean culture with a passion and lives and breathes history.

8. He is patient and rarely loses his temper.

9. Sometimes when we are home alone, he takes me in his  arms and we waltz in our crazy apartment.

10. My chemicals like his chemicals!

Tanti Auguri amore mio, TI AMO

Week 1 Taking Better Pictures – Portrait Composition

I have so many gorgeous friends out there who would like to know more about photography and how to take better pics that I thought we could share some of our pics once a week this month in a little ‘smirkshop’ – something to make you smile and work at the same time.

I thought a great place to start was on portrait composition and in the next three weeks I would like to give tips on light, emotion and shooting movement.

Many newbies think that it is best to place your subject in the middle of the photo. I also thought that in the early days but I was quickly rapped over the knuckles by my photography teacher who instilled the 2/3rds rule of art in all of us.

Photographic composition and proportions came directly from the art world at photographys birth in the 1800’s. A nicely  balanced image has the same proportions as in art today. It’s called the 2/3rds rule. If you can imagine laying a grid over your images like I have above and breaking it up into 3rds horizontally and vertically. A  great place to position your portraiture subject is where the lines meet.

This  allows for ‘negative space’ in the image and for an interesting composition.

This principle works for horizontal and vertical images and can also be applied to landscape, fashion, still life composition.

When can we break this rule? All rules are made to be broken this is only a guideline and there are times when this isn’t the best option.

All photos copyright Carla Coulson Chasing a Dream

As in the above photo I have placed the subject smack bang in the middle of the image because I loved him framed by the beautiful architecture. Placing someone in the middle of the shot also works when you have a totally symmetrical image, someone in the middle of a street, row of trees etc. The photo can be stronger placing them in the middle on purpose.

Be Creative


5 Tips for Beginners To Take Better Photos

Laurito Copyright Carla Coulson

I love helping people, especially beginners to take better pics.

Once you understand light, movement, F-stops, depth of field and shutter speed, photography becomes second nature.

I too had a lot of trouble absorbing the basics in the beginning but once you have mastered these vital components photography no longer becomes a thought process but one of feelings and emotions.

It’s magical.

Here are 5 tips if you are a new photographer that will help you take better photos.

1. What is your light source. Ask yourself every time you are about to take a photo ‘where is the light coming from’? You might be outside and it might be a cloudy day but still take the trouble to find where the sun is. If you are inside ask yourself ‘where is the light coming from’? Is it a window, overhead light etc.

2. Ask yourself what type of light you are using. Sunlight, open shade, window light, mixed light, artificial light? Know what your light quality is and what effect it will have on your subject is important. Each light source will have different properties of colour temperatures and this is really important for you to know when shooting.

3. Interference in your composition. When composing your shot take a photo and have a good look at the screen to see if there are any lines, poles that are interfering with your composition. Can you improve it by moving something in the shot? There is nothing worse that taking pics for 10 mins to find there is a pole coming out of your subjects head!

4. Move your subject. If you are working in light that you don’t like or it isn’t flattering,  move your subject to a better light source. I find open shade on a sunny day is always flattering. Mixed light can be difficult to manage unless you have lots of experience. The trick is to always find the best available light.

5. Depth of field. The amount of depth of field in a photo is really important depending on what you want to achieve. I find when shooting movement as in the above photo, it is great to have lots of depth of field i.e F16 as  my subject was moving (and I was treading water taking the photo) and if I had had a low f stop ie F2.8 it is probable that she would have jumped out of my field of range.When shooting portraits with more than one person standing in different positions be careful that you have at least F5.6 otherwise you risk someone being out of focus. If you want lots of blur when shooting just one person,  consider shooting at F2.8. Always focus on the eyes..

These are just 5 simple tips that hopefully will help you improve your photos.

My Favourite Gear

Canon EOS 5D Mark III 

Canon EF 24-70mm 

Canon EF 35mm 

Happy Snapping.

Happy Mother’s Day Mum

My mum and dad Copyright some fabulous Sydney photographer that unfortunately I don’t his name

Just writing the words ‘Happy Mother’s Day Mum’, being so faraway makes me want to burst into tears. You all probably know that I am sentimental fool but with the passing of the years I have now lived almost 12 years away from my family and my mum and I don’t know what the future holds for me. Maybe I will spend many more years away from my family. The thought breaks my heart, the tears have started to roll!

My mum is special for so many reasons. She is one of those incredible women who makes things effortless, she has the energy of all her children put together and for mum nothing has ever been or ever will be impossible. There is always a solution to every problem and with her wonderful country spirit and her reams of positivity,  if anyone will find the way it will be my mum. She loves us unconditionally no matter how annoying and impatient we can be!!

Most of us kids take our mothers for granted no how old we grow. Our mothers are the guiding force of the family and the ones that glue us all together they work hard to never let the family un-stick and keep the love and the chat flowing. Mum juggles all our different personalities and ducks and weaves to keep us happy, always putting our happiness before hers.

I wish I lived next door to my mum (and dad). I would pop in for afternoon tea, hear all the family news from the one source and the shenanigans of her and her mates (whom I love – Dawn, Lorna and Audrey)! I know her eyes would light up just like they do on skype when we chat except we would be together in the one room, in person with scones and jam or cream or something delish she would have on hand.

For all of you lucky enough to be with your mother on mother’s day, look after her, cherish her and remember all the little sacrifices our mums have made for us throughout the years.

Mum, I love you and happy birthday too!!


Ps; I have always loved the above photo of my parents, the photo was taken before I was born and I adore to see them as just two people in love as well as my mum and dad.